Gov. Roy Cooper and members from his administration met in Asheville Monday to discuss issues facing Western North Carolina and to attend a number of events across the region pertinent to their areas of government.
Cooper and members from his cabinet–level agencies and staff met on the campus of UNC-Asheville to discuss issues facing the region, including economic development, public safety and health care.
The members were also in the area of the state to get in front of the people in the mountain region, often thought of as far-flung from the Raleigh area where the state government is centered.
Cooper and cabinet secretaries participated in events across Western North Carolina in Buncombe, Burke, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties.
Cooper visited TC Roberson High School in Asheville Monday morning to discuss his budget recommendations for school safety, which includes a proposal to allocate $130 million for school safety improvements.
Cooper is going to ask the legislature to allocate $65 million to a funding reserve for building improvements related to safety and security at K-12 public schools, state universities and community colleges.
The funds would, under Cooper’s plan, be available for communication system upgrades, equipment purchases, audio-visual security monitoring systems, panic alarms, improved doors, and other items designed to prevent and respond to threats.
Cooper also wants $40 million to improve the mental health support landscape in the school systems with flexible funding that could go to hire professionals to support mental health. Cooper expects the allocation to support at least 500 new positions statewide.
Another $10 million would go to expand school resource officer programs across the state.
Cooper also advocates for a number of policy changes to go with these monetary allocations including “extreme risk protection orders.” Cooper said this would give people the power to go to the courts to have “guns removed temporarily from an individual who is a danger to themselves or the community.”
Cooper also wants citizens to have to ask their sheriff to buy modern sporting rifles like the AR-15 and a ban on anyone under 21 owning these guns “until the federal government takes action to discontinue the sale of assault weapons to civilians.”
Cooper also stopped in Waynesville for a roundtable discussion on opioids at Haywood Pathways Center.
Cooper’s tour of Western North Carolina was set to continue on Tuesday morning with the governor visiting Madison High School in Marshall and then attending another roundtable discussion to talk about his Hometown Strong initiative to strengthen rural communities.