RIP, Caldwell County bookmobile

Posted July 7

State budget

— Three weeks ago, as the Republican majority pushed its state budget proposal through the General Assembly, Democratic leadership upset over education funding latched briefly onto a project from the North Carolina foothills.

"When you fail to fund a $150 stipend for teachers statewide to pay for supplies (instead of) out of their pockets, you cannot say you're pro-public education because the Caldwell County bookmobile got $100,000," House Minority Leader Darren Jackson said at the time.

Well, the Caldwell County bookmobile no longer gets $100,000. That money, included in the final budget that passed the legislature over Gov. Roy Cooper's veto, was deleted two days later via the General Assembly's annual budget technical corrections bill.

This is the legislation meant to clean up language in the lengthy budget, making minor changes here and there and sometimes making not-so-minor ones. In this case, the bookmobile's $100,000 was shifted to a Caldwell County EMS project. The county plans to buy new stretchers for its ambulances.

"The EMS money was a higher priority," said state Rep. Destin Hall, R-Caldwell.

Why the change, right at the end of the process? Hall said there was probably some initial miscommunication between him and county commissioners. It's possible funding for the bookmobile will come back in a future budget, he said.

The county does not have a bookmobile now, and the money would have purchased a customized vehicle it planned to stock, Library Director Leslie Mason said.

"It's unfortunate ... but decisions have to be made," Mason said of the gotten, then gone, earmark. "It was exciting to think about."


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