House tentatively OKs $20.6B budget

Posted June 12, 2013
Updated June 13, 2013

— After more than seven hours of debate, the state House voted Wednesday night to give tentative approval to its $20.6 billion budget proposal.

The vote was 77-41, largely along party lines. Two Democrats voted for the Republican-penned plan: Reps. Bill Brisson, D-Bladen, and Ken Waddell, D-Columbus. One Republican voted against it: Rep. Robert Brawley, R-Iredell.

"We came through a fiscal storm like North Carolina had not faced in a generation," said senior budget-writer Nelson Dollar, R-Wake."The waters are beginning to calm, and we are beginning to move forward in a bold new way."

Dollar called the plan "reasonable" and "responsible." 

"We fund the things that are most important in this state," he said. "We want to set priorities, and we have done that in this budget."

But Democrats panned the plan as insufficient and misguided, focused on paying for tax cuts at the expense of funding for education, health care and job creation.  

"This budget makes it painfully clear that we don’t have the right priorities in mind for North Carolina," said Minority Leader Larry Hall. 

"We rank 48th in teacher pay, 46th in education spending. We can’t go much lower. When they say the 'race to the bottom,' we’re going to finish No. 1," said Hall, D-Durham. "Make no mistake. The real victims in this budget are the middle-class families."

Most of Wednesday's debate was taken up by a series of nearly 30 amendments.  The most debated of those was an attempt to remove a voucher program from the budget bill.   

In a highly unusual move, House Speaker Thom Tillis turned over the dais to Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, so he could argue against the amendment from the floor. 

Supporters of the amendment said the voucher program should be a stand-alone bill, rather than in the budget, but voucher backers argued the proposal had already received plenty of committee debate.

Rep. Kelly Alexander, D-Mecklenburg, said the  vouchers aren't generous enough to help truly low-income families move their children into charter or private schools.

"If you don’t have resources, you don’t really have a choice. You got rhetoric. You got a hunting license," Alexander said.

Fellow Democrat and voucher support Rep. Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford, challenged Alexander's argument, saying the low-income community he represents has already set up successful charter schools with little funding.

"We may be poor, but we’re not stupid," Brandon retorted, "and we have been able to stretch a dollar further than anybody I know for decades."

Brawley spoke in favor of removing vouchers from the budget, warning that state money could come with regulatory strings attached that would drive schools away from accepting it. 

But Tillis countered Brawley in an impassioned plea to keep the voucher funding in the bill. 

"I no longer say K-12 education in North Carolina is broken. It’s a great political stump speech, but it’s factually not true," Tillis said. "There’s some great stuff happening, but it’s not happening everywhere.

"The reality is there are parents – mothers, single mothers of small children – who desperately want a choice," he said. "Now is the time."  

Lawmakers voted across party lines on both sides of the amendment, but voucher supporters prevailed. The program remains in the budget.

The final House vote on the budget is scheduled for Thursday. Debate will begin at 9 a.m. and is expected to last for several hours. 

Once the House gives final approval, the proposal returns to the Senate. At that point, House and Senate will begin work to iron out the substantial differences in their spending plans.


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  • Plenty Coups Jun 13, 2013

    doingmybest-"Look at the post, the focus was on the accuracy of the numbers, not whether teachers are paid what they are worth"

    Your last 2 sentences speak volumes.

    doingmybest-"The same salary for a 10 year Masters degree and board certified is $52,692. Those that improve upon themselves can do much better. The lazy ones complain."

    A teacher who does all the right things, completes a 4 year degree, pays a whole ton of money yet has the nerve to complain about the state breaking its word as to what it was going to pay them is "lazy"? If your wife really is a teacher, you should know that her pay has been frozen the last 5 years. Her benefits have also been cut. Recently, the state also proposed ending Masters degree pay for those very same teachers who "chose to improve upon themselves".

  • DoingMyBest Jun 13, 2013

    "The ignorant ones sure seem to be able to justify not paying teachers what they are worth."

    Look at the post, the focus was on the accuracy of the numbers, not whether teachers are paid what they are worth. Quit making it something it isn't. My spouse has been an educator for more than 30 years, so don't preach to me!

  • jplace Jun 13, 2013

    NC is a right to work state. There may be "unions", but they are not official. Teachers and other state employees have any real protections. They are just advocacy organizations who are working very to improve public services. No voucher-eligible person will be able to afford true private school tuition. Tell me exactly why private schools are better. They are driven by profits. Same with for profit charter schools. There are many great public charter schools in the state and they are funded in the same way as other public schools (except that they get no support from the so-called Education Lottery. So taking funding away from public schools also hurts public charters.

  • Plenty Coups Jun 13, 2013

    "Your screen name describes the vast majority of the overworked and underpaid teachers in NC. Why don't you give them the same credit you give yourself?(doingmybest)"

    Because he doesn't want to pay for it. Simple as that.

  • Plenty Coups Jun 13, 2013

    Doingmybest-"For a 10 year teacher with base level BA wake county salary with county supplement is $42,583.80."

    Which is way low compared to other professions that require a 4 year degree. Also lower than 47 other states teacher pay. Wake County tends also to pay their teachers better than most of the other 99 counties.

    " The same salary for a 10 year Masters degree and board certified is $52,692."

    Wow. A whole 52K. You seem to have no perception of how much time and money it takes to get 2 degrees after high school, plus an advanced certification. 52K is terribly low compared to other professions requiring the same education after 10 years.

    "Those that improve upon themselves can do much better. The lazy ones complain."

    The ignorant ones sure seem to be able to justify not paying teachers what they are worth.

  • Plenty Coups Jun 13, 2013

    "The study also found that the achievement gaps common to public schools were practically insignificant in the homeschool community."

    Yes, the home school association is great at justifying themselves. I don't doubt that they have some good, motivated kids. But they don't take the same tests and so an objective comparison isn't possible. Take the "California Achievement Test", the test the Homeschoolers use to evaluate themselves. the parent orders it, gets to review it, and then let their kid take it. My neighbor did this and ...admits that she cheats by quizzing her kids on the same questions in the test. Hardly anything you can compare with. Let them take the NAEP, a test which must be administered under strict rules and one in which all public and private schools take.

  • junkmail5 Jun 13, 2013

    Leave it the Dems to say middle class families will be hurt- arfamr1008

    yes, because they can do math, and know that's true.

    The house tax plan raises taxes on everyone but the richest 5% of the state.

    If you make less than $169,000 a year you'll pay MORE under the house plan than the current tax system.

  • SaveEnergyMan Jun 13, 2013

    bill0, you are 100% correct. We see it daily at my son's new school where most of the kids are from the poor side of town. No motivation, no aptitude, no future. The teachers are horrible because of it - because the best teachers are hired by suburban schools (Cary, Apex, N Raleigh, C Hill) where the kids are best and its easy to teach. The teachers at low performing schools are the teachers to get rid of, but you can't replace them because no one good wants to go to a low performing school.

    The problem isn't money, it's family and society. As a politican blaming the electorate is going to get you voted out, so you blame teachers and unions.

  • A Libertarian Jun 13, 2013

    billo - great we agree - get rid of public edcation and focus on the parents. See how easy this is. Now get the rest of your liberal friends to agree. I would love to choose where my kids go to private or charter school.

  • issymayake Jun 13, 2013


    You realize North Carolina has 114 other school districts (and 99 charter schools) right? Heck, I was being generous; a ten-year veteran teacher only receives $37,110 from the state. Wake and the wealthier districts provide a supplement, so does that mean that Wake will attract better teachers than a less wealthy county like Halifax? Yep. . . unfortunately, the performance of Wake schools doesn't put the parents of Halifax schools at ease.

    Your screen name describes the vast majority of the overworked and underpaid teachers in NC. Why don't you give them the same credit you give yourself?


    Well said. If the system is so wretched, then every teacher should quit. I mean, why even try if people don't consider you dedicated or a valuable part of the community. They should just quit and open a babysitting service:
    $12.00/hr * 6 hours a day * 30 students per business *180 days a year = $388,800.

    We pay 10% of that. Looks like parents are getting a deal. lol