@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

House leaders tout 'realistic' budget plan

Posted June 10, 2013

— State House leaders say the $20.6 billion spending plan unveiled late Sunday night is "fiscally responsible and economically sustainable."

"We have crafted a budget that balances state spending with our income, sets priorities and does not raise taxes," said senior budget chairman Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, adding that the proposal increases state spending by only about 1.9 percent over 2012.

"The House's budget proposal is realistic, it is reasonable and it is responsible," he said, "and it places North Carolina's house on a sound foundation for the future." 

According to budget-writers, the House plan for 2013-14 spends $12 million less than the Senate proposal and $188 million less than recommended by Gov. Pat McCrory. 

It adds funding for 5,000 more pre-kindergarten slots and restores money for the state's Teaching Fellows program. It provides short-term funding to keep group home residents in their placement while a long-term fix is tailored and would keep the state's three in-patient drug and alcohol treatment centers open. It also adds money for additional magistrates and probation officers.

State employees and teachers would receive five days of non-expiring leave. The House plan sets aside $160 million in the second year for "salary adjustments," but it's unclear whether that would be broad-based or tied to new performance-pay initiatives.

Dana Cope, executive director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, said the House plan gives his members more than the Senate budget, but he's leaning more toward an immediate 1 percent pay raise proposed by McCrory.

Classroom generic Teachers, state workers seek raises in budget

"While the vacation days are good and appreciated, quite frankly, they won't put food on the table," Cope said.

Likewise, North Carolina Association of Educators President Rodney Ellis is seeking more money for public school teachers in the final budget.

"When I talk to educators, their primary concern right now is that we rank 48th in teacher salaries," Ellis said.

The House plan tries to hold the line on class sizes, cuts fewer teacher assistants than the Senate budget and includes salary supplements for teachers with advanced degrees.

Dollar said the budget covers the cost of the House's tax reform plan. Asked about the stark differences between House and Senate tax reform price tags, he said, "We do have space in the budget to harmonize."

House Speaker Thom Tillis said he's optimistic that the process can be completed by the end of June.

"I think the Senate has some great ideas. The question is the timing and when it fits into the process," he said. "It's a continuous process."

Tillis added that an agreement on tax reform would have to precede a budget deal, since the former will determines the amount of available revenue. He said the two are being negotiated separately, but that they'll be closely tied together. 

Charter schools and eugenics

House budget subcommittee chairs were on hand Monday to field questions about some of the special provisions in the House's proposal.

One likely sticking point for later negotiations is the House's inclusion of funds to reimburse living victims of the state's eugenics program. Compensation had strong bipartisan support in the House in 2011 and 2012, but Senate Republicans refused to take it up. 

Rep. Nelson Dollar House budget-writers explain spending plan

Asked about the odds that eugenics compensation will appear in the final budget deal, Dollar would only say, "We are going to do our best." 

Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, was asked about a half-million dollar line item – essentially a no-bid contract – for a dollar-for-dollar matching grant for pro-charter nonprofit Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina to help organize efforts to start charter schools in rural areas. 

The provision would put PEFNC in charge of administering grants of up to $100,000, half of it taxpayer-funded, for planning for rural charters.

House lawmakers are also seeking to set up a state charter school board within the Department of Public Instruction. That Board might seem to be a logical choice to perform the advocacy work the budget would pay PEFNC to do.

But Horn said the state charter board wouldn't likely get involved in rural outreach "till there is reason to believe that it would make sense to put a charter school in the area."

The budget also includes $50 million over the next two years for "Opportunity Scholarships," a House-backed plan to provide grants to lower-income families to help pay for private K-12 education.  

"It's a relatively small piece," said Dollar. "It's almost the size of a pilot program."

The spending plan will be in the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday. That committee is expected to spend most of the day debating amendments to the bill. Its first House floor vote is scheduled for Wednesday.

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  • Bendal1 Jun 11, 4:02 p.m.

    The House budget also continues the inexorable march to a neutered DOT design office, by mandating another layoff over the next 2 years and increasing the % of projects given to private firms to 70% in 2015. Funny thing about sending so much work to private engineering firms though; states that did that in the past (FL, VA, etc) found themselves trapped in rapidly inflating engineering and design costs, expensive revisions caused by incompetent firms and a lack of experienced oversight, and no way to negotiate lower costs. Now they are trying to rebuild their gutted design units, having learned their lesson.

    Looks like NC is headed down that same path should the House budget get accepted and passed. Won't really matter to me; I retire in a few years and will be working in one of those engineering firms by then, making sure my company gets as much state money as we can.

  • teddyspaghetti Jun 11, 2:41 p.m.

    When I was growing up we had groups based upon ability....it was great. The more advanced kids got the more challenging projects and the lesser advanced kids got remedial assistance. Can't do that now - someone's feeeeeeeeeeeeeeelings might get hurt! So now the more advanced kids are bored, the lesser advanced kids are overwhelmed.....but they feel good about themselves!!! NOT!

    One main problem that ya'll haven't yet touched upon is parental involvement. That, more than most anything else, will determine if a kid is successful or not....and money can't fix that.

    Let's face it, we have LOTS of problems that need addressing when it comes to education, apathetic parents, apathetic students, apathetic teachers, apathetic administrators......and we, the taxpayers, can't do a thing about them because of feeeeeeeeeeeeeeelings.......

  • sisu Jun 11, 10:09 a.m.

    I would be much happier with my current salary if I could have a classroom with 15-20 students in it, grouped by ability. Then, we could make some real progress.
    ewcheercoach

    This. Exactly. If Republicans want to talk about waste and inefficiency, they should get on board with ability grouping. I was talking to a group of teachers a few years about this. I cannot understand why it isn't done. I was fortunate enough to attend a public school that did this. One of the teachers said that she hated it when she was in school because she placed in the middle group and always thought of herself as a "C student". It really hurt her morale. Well......... sorry, but she was also a "C teacher". She was ineffective and was moved to the lower grades when her students' test scores were suffering.

    Some say it hurts the kids' self esteem to be placed in a "lower" class. The truth is, they know where they rank within a mixed class anyway. Better to have more efficient instruction.

  • dlphnwmn8 Jun 11, 9:52 a.m.

    "House leaders tout 'realistic' budget plan" Too funny. I bet not one of them can tell you what a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread or a jar of peanut butter costs without researching, or having one of their aides research it first.

  • ewcheercoach Jun 10, 8:10 p.m.

    Yankee1- You don't know anything about public schools.

    I can start the year in a classroom with 32 children in it. About half of them will start the year not able to add, subtract, multiply and divide 1 digit numbers. Others can add and subtract, but not multiply or divide. And they are all expected to be able to do 6th grade level math by the end of the school year? It's an impossible goal to set with that many students mixed into a classroom. I would be much happier with my current salary if I could have a classroom with 15-20 students in it, grouped by ability. Then, we could make some real progress.

  • miseem Jun 10, 7:55 p.m.

    The fact remains that every year the education establishment cries about needing more money and every year nothing changes. What do we do with it? We hire more administrators, reward bad teachers, cow-tow to the unions and associations, waste money on pushing political correctness, diversity and sexual orientation propaganda, feed and babysit more kids for people who have them knowing they can't afford them, reward more illegals and install stupid stuff like signage for electric cars. It is what it is and we don't get it!
    Yankee1 -
    Have you even been in a public school recently, or are you getting this from your favorite rabblerousers? I hate to repeat your entire post, but it's so far from the truth, you can't have had any real exposure to public schools recently.

  • Plenty Coups Jun 10, 7:49 p.m.

    jason-exactly. They have a whole list of excuses as to why this year shouldn't be the year to give teachers a raise. They really mean "never".

  • miseem Jun 10, 7:48 p.m.

    ROFL! Where you get the idea that the quality of education depends on how much you spend per student can only come from the liberal handbook yankee1.

    And I guess that goes for training and compensation for doctors, engineers (the people that build the bridges and buildings we use), electricians and mechanics, and pretty much any job. While there may not be a dollar for dollar correspondence (#24 may not be better than # 26), you pretty much get what you pay for. # 48 is not normally going to be better than #3. But let's keep calling our teachers gougers, keep their pay low, give them no support or respect. Let's cut funding for public education, increase class size. THAT will change things. That should bring in all sorts of talent.

  • Plenty Coups Jun 10, 7:48 p.m.

    yankee-"ROFL! Where you get the idea that the quality of education depends on how much you spend per student can only come from the liberal handbook."

    Higher pay attracts better quality. Or are you going to try and pretend that no job should ever offer raises to its valued employees because there is no guarantee the employeees will be happier or better? We should therefore spend less? Give me a break from your irrational logic. There is a very strong correlation w/ states that spend more getting better results. It's clear that you just don't value education and don't want to spend any of your precious tax dollars.

  • yankee1 Jun 10, 7:45 p.m.

    This really is a terribly flawed perception based on terrible reporting by the major networks that specialize in crises and fear-mongering.... Vox-Populi

    Make whatever excuses you want. The fact remains that every year the education establishment cries about needing more money and every year nothing changes. What do we do with it? We hire more administrators, reward bad teachers, cow-tow to the unions and associations, waste money on pushing political correctness, diversity and sexual orientation propaganda, feed and babysit more kids for people who have them knowing they can't afford them, reward more illegals and install stupid stuff like signage for electric cars. It is what it is and we don't get it!

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