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The Daily Tar Heel

NC House preserves law school funding

The NC House of Representatives took out a spending cut proposed by the Senate to slash UNC law school’s funding by 30 percent. However, the North Carolina General Assembly budget is not finalized.

NC Rep. John Fraley, R-Iredell, said the situation was complex and that they were still in the process of negotiating.

“I don’t know what was behind the Senate’s decision to propose the reduction, but we chose not to follow as this matter requires much more discussion and understanding,” Fraley said.

Martin Brinkley, the Dean of the UNC School of Law, said the school was disappointed that the Senate had a proposed a budget cut, especially since its graduates contribute to the economic prosperity of the state through their service.

“While we are pleased that the House recognizes the value the school provides in training the next generation of lawyers to contribute to and serve every part of the state, we also know that there are no guarantees that there will be no cuts,” Brinkley said.

NC Rep. Jonathan Jordan, R-Ashe, said he had to reserve judgment about the UNC law school’s budget since the process was still taking place, and the reason for the budget disparities between the Senate and the House would be discussed during the Conference budget meeting.

“There were a couple of Board of Governors that were critical of the Law school, so I imagine that that's probably where the Senate proposal came from,” Jordan said. 

There has also been a history of budget cuts with UNC law school’s programs in the past. The Board of Governors, appointed by the North Carolina General Assembly, cut funding for the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, a UNC School of Law program directed by Professor Gene Nichol in 2015.

“Together, we have sought to focus a meaningful light on the challenges of poverty and to push back against policies that foster economic injustice,” Nichol said in a statement from 2015. “Those efforts, as you know, have led the UNC Board of Governors to close the Poverty Center."

Nichol is an Op-Ed contributor to the News & Observer, and has written numerous articles criticizing the majority Republican NC General Assembly.

Brinkley said the UNC School of Law provides education to graduates who become leaders and have positive impacts in rural and urban communities.

“Part of our mission is to ensure access to an affordable legal education while ensuring that that education is of the highest quality,” Brinkley said. “Without proper funding, our ability to provide the courses and programs necessary to train outstanding lawyers for North Carolina and the nation would be greatly limited.”

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