TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. — As she squares off against a Republican-controlled legislature and the budget she says will hurt North Carolina’s public education, Gov. Bev Perdue will be a guest speaker today at a special “moving up” ceremony for children enrolled in Lulu’s Childhood Enrichment Center, a first-of-its-kind daycare center located at the headquarters of home decorating and furniture company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. There, she is expected to speak on issues affecting education and early childhood development.

Today’s ceremony will honor 12 cap-and-gown-clad preschoolers moving on to Kindergarten in the fall. Company co-founder and chairman Mitchell Gold. Bob Williams, company co-founder and president of design, will also speak.

Following the ceremony, the company will also present its 14th Annual Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams College Scholarship Program awards to 12 college- and university-bound students of company employees. More than $30,000 in scholarships have been distributed this year.

Gold and Williams say that the daycare ceremony and awards program are among the proudest days of their lives.

“We feel especially fortunate to have Governor Bev Perdue joining us this year,” Gold said in a statement. “One of our most important principles at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams is to be family-centric and to play a meaningful role in the lives of our employees, their children, and our community. I think our daycare center embodies this philosophy because it provides a place where our young children can be nurtured, protected, and educated, and it gives our working parents the peace of mind that helps them be as productive as possible each day. The annual College Scholarship Awards are also incredibly meaningful, as one of our missions is to encourage our employees’ children to pursue higher education. The monies we distribute each year help them do that.”

“This is a big deal for us,” Williams said. “For the Governor to recognize our company, our commitment to education and pay us a visit on this special day gives us an enormous sense of satisfaction and pride. Mitchell and I created the scholarship program for our employees because we believe that you can make a difference in people’s lives,” continued Williams. “Just as we have witnessed the success of our on-site daycare facility, we have seen this scholarship program continually benefit our employees and their children by inspiring them to consider furthering their education beyond high school.”

Perdue, a Democrat, has been locked in a battle over the budget and education funding with a Republican controlled-legislature this session. She says the proposal approved by the GOP House and Senate cuts too deep and has threatened to veto it. Republicans have countered, pointing out that education spending is only slightly less than Perdue’s original proposal.

A spokesperson with Perdue’s office said the governor might speak on the budget during today’s ceremony. Due to the nature of the event, the spokesperson said, such comments will likely be limited to the importance of early childhood education. : :