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$3 Million in Funding to Be Removed from UNC Law School
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Summary: A portion of the State funding for UNC Chapel Hill School of Law has been taken away to give to the Mountain Area Health Education Center, in efforts to increase doctors in the area.

North Carolina State Republican Senator Tom Apodaca has agitated the Senate Democrats after proposing the shift of $3 million of funding to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Law to the Mountain Area Health Education Center. The Center trains physicians and other health care workers to increase the availability of health care to the region. The change passed mostly along the party-line at 30-19.


Apodaca claims the change in funding will help address the shortage of doctors in the Western area of North Carolina. Some saw the move differently. One Democrat believes the change was a way for the Senate to have a bargaining tool during the approaching budget discussions with the House. The House Speaker, Tim Moore, is a UNC graduate.

Other Democrats think the budget cut for the law school is a punishment. The school runs on a budget of $27.2 million, $8.8 of which comes from the state. The removal of $3 million is over 10 percent of the law schools budget. Democratic Sen. Jeff Jackson asked Apodaca if he thought this move sends a message to other schools that they are subject to random cuts. Apodaca replied with a no.

The MAHEC, which runs on a $48.5 million dollar budget, is part of the University of North Carolina’s system. There are eight similar agencies throughout the state. MAHEC has said that they are looking for ways through funding to expand their resources and opportunities such as by training surgeons. They also hope to increase the numbers of physicians in their residency program.

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Other Democrats were not happy about the way the change was purposed. Apodaca introduced the amendment at the end of the day, throwing many off guard. The change was unexpected and possibly a message targeted at a specific law professor. Gene Nichol is a severe critic of the Republican majority of the General Assembly. Nichol was heading a center on poverty at the UNC law school where he is still employed. The center was eliminated by the university’s Board of Governors. Democrats called the action a politically fueled payback.

The law school is a profitable establishment with around $40 million in savings that Apodaca says they can easily makeup the $3 million on their own. The schools says they have been saving that money to replace an old building without needing financial assistance from taxpayers. Apodaca said, “and if there’s one thing in North Carolina we have no shortage of, it’s lawyers.”





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