Conference report draft shows investment in rural infrastructure, children’s health

The North Carolina state seal at the North Carolina General Assembly.

RALEIGH — A copy of state budget conference report shows over $1 billion allocated to state capital and infrastructure spending in each of the next two years and a focus on rural infrastructure and children’s health.

Image from 2023-25 budget conference report

The spending plan, which is expected to be voted on this week, includes dozens of projects, including construction of a new children’s hospital in the Triangle. The funding includes $3.6 million in 2023-24 and $72.3 million in 2024-25.

The plan also calls for a total authorization of $50 million for the Appalachian State University Hickory campus Phase 1 renovation with $4.1 million allocated in 2024-25.

Gaston College will see funds for capital improvements or equipment at a health science education and simulation center totaling $15 million in 2023-24 and $45 million in 2024-25.

The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro is authorized to spend $60 million for a new aviary exhibit building.

“The Randolph delegation requested funds for a new aviary area at the North Carolina Zoo, a much-needed upgrade from the outdated previous facility. The bird aviary is trendy among visitors to our North Carolina Zoo, so we are honored to have played a role in bringing the funds for this project,” state Rep. Brian Biggs told North State Journal in a statement when asked about the Zoo funding.

Also included in the general fund appropriation is $80 million for use in the Care for Women, Children, and Families Act, which passed earlier this year to update the state’s abortion laws.

As North State Journal reported earlier in September, NCInnovation would receive $250 million in each of the next two years as well.

The primary spending focus, as is typically the case, is education, with a total of $17.3 billion net appropriation of the nearly $30 billion total.

The budget bill and conference report can be seen at

This is a developing story and will be updated.