I owe the Department of Commerce an apology. Its budget for
corporate welfare did not grow by $40 million in the 2006-07 budget,
$7.6 million of that money is actually earmarked for universities.

According to the Triangle Business Journal (no link), most of
the $10 million Economic Develpment Reserve is really more spending for
the UNC System, which already has $460 million worth of capital
projects in the budget. Lee Weisbecker writes:

[B]udget conferees who put the item into the state’s $19 billion
spending plan knew up front where at least $7.6 million of the $10
million was headed. … $4 million will go to acquire land near a U.S.
Coast Guard Station in Elizabeth City as part of a pilot training
program at Elizabeth City State University. The remaining $3.6 million
will go to support development of a Center for Design Innovation, a
public-private partnership being spearheaded by Winston-Salem State
University and the North Carolina School of the Arts.

The Center for Design Innovation was in the Senate Budget. It goes
without saying that “Commerce Department officials didn’t include the
$10 million in their 2007 budget request.”

Despite sheananigans
like this, Gov. Easley, Chris Fitzsimon and the General Assembly
leadership still say it is the best budget in years — there are
advantages to setting the bar low.