Ghost Buildings

Back when North Carolina was flush, the state agreed to major construction at several campuses of the University of North Carolina system. Well the buildings are still going up, but the schools may not be able to use them. According to an article by Benjamin Niolet, Eric Ferreri, and Jay Price in the the Raleigh News & Observer:

According to university records…17 new state university facilities across North Carolina that may not open as expected this year or next if the state can’t provide the money to operate them.

“We’ll either have to mothball these new science buildings or we’ll have to pull the money out of the academic side,” UNC System President Erskine Bowles told reporters last week. “It’s crazy not to give us the funds to operate them.”

The trouble is that the money appropriated by the state to build the buildings doesn’t actually pay for electricity or maintenance.

North Carolina’s higher education system is asking for $25 million from the state to pay for operating the buildings. North Carolina, however, has an $800 million revenue shortfall, and is looking to save money wherever it can.

The system currently receives some $2.5 billion from North Carolina but he state has been cutting back. Over the last several years the system has seen $575 million in state funding evaporate.

While it might be “crazy” for the state not to give the schools money to open the buildings they’ve already built, the UNC president knows how serious this budget issue can be. Last year, Democratic Governor Beverly Perdue proposed eliminating state funding for the center for alcohol studies at the medical school of UNC named for the president’s father.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer