Local Politics

State Ponders How to Pay $700M Owed to Schools

Posted December 17, 2007

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— State lawmakers have to find a way to pay about $700 million to North Carolina school districts in the coming years after a court ruling last week.

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning decided tax penalties, parking tickets at state universities, vehicle fines and other monies collected from September 1997 to July 2005 should go to the state's Civil Fines and Forfeitures Fund, which would then allocate the money to the state's school districts for technology.

The North Carolina School Boards Association and school boards from six counties, including Wake, Durham and Johnston, sued the state in 1998 to collect the money.

"Whatever is paid will be paid over time," Manning said.

State Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, said he is frustrated the state didn't pass along the fines to schools before, and he said he sees no choice but to find a way to pay now.

"We're just going to have to build it into the budget. We're going to have to cut out some earmarks," Hunt said.

Leanne Winner, director of government relations for the school boards association, said universities have already set aside millions in parking fines to help pay the bill. Lawmakers also have an $800 million rainy day fund for emergencies, she said.

"(Lawmakers) may not get to do some new things that they would like to do, but I don't think there would need to be any substantial cuts," Winner said.

Although state tax revenues are running about $120 million above projections, some analysts are concerned the national housing and credit crunch could send the state's economy downhill.

School officials said their main worry is that lawmakers will use the $700 million from the court case to replace existing school funds.

"Anytime I hear the word 'supplant,' it concerns me," Winner said.


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  • WXYZ Dec 18, 2007

    Hmmm.... Who was governor and what political party was in power from 1997 through 2005? Who wanted to divert that money to the general fund and other "pet projects" and "pork barrel" politicing? Anybody remember that Easley fought the repeal of the intangibles tax and he also fought the repeal of the tax on the state employees retirement fund? Thanks God he lost both of these fights over money. Did you know that Easley's legislature has doubled the state budget compared to 10 years ago? Did you know that Easley's legislature has raised the state sales tax and many, many other taxes and fees EVERY year he has been in office? Did you know that Easley's legislature has raised the annual state budget AT LEAST 1 billion dollars EVERY year he has been in office? Guess what is a big cause of inflation - The run-away, tax and spend, communist, socialist aka Democrat, state government in NC. Better ask for a raise every 6 months or you won't stay ahead our money hungry state government.

  • Amruby Dec 18, 2007

    Hope this money trickles down to my classroom. I could use a new pencil sharpner or possibly a new chair for my students to sit in. Right now I am 4 chairs short in my classroom and the students take turns sitting in my chair. I have been asking for additional chairs for two years. They keep adding students but they never add chairs or desks.

  • chfdcpt Dec 18, 2007

    Now folks, they have a very simple solution, like they always do at the legislature. They will cut back on the benefits of State Employees, freeze the measly 1-2% COLA and again forget the measly 1-2% pay raise. So, after they shaft the state employess again, they will find something else to tax.

    Of course, they can always dip into the highway construction fund (paid by the additional roadway use tax in gasoline), the local and state employees retirement fund (paid by a mandatory 6% deduciton from our paychecks); and lets not forget the lovely sales tax reimbursements to local/county government a few years ago, which caused property taxes to be raised everywhere.

    Of course, I do not expect the legislature to find any of their pet projects to cut back on.

    Y'all be safe out there, and have a Merry Christmas.

  • aquamama Dec 18, 2007

    Based on the headline, I think the state should pay in crisp $2 bills.

  • ty will belabor a point Dec 18, 2007

    or= of

  • ty will belabor a point Dec 18, 2007

    Of course schools' budgets should be cut. The United States spends upwards or $10,000 (depending on locale) per child per school year to educate our children and guess what? It's not enough. Mismanagement, teacher's unions, ineffective boards, over priced land, lawsuits and other things all combine to put the schools in a terrible bind. I am a parent of two children who will never darken a public school's door for those very reasons. Sure, I'll continue to pay for them at the point of a gun (via taxes) but I'll not sacrifice my kids on the altar of inefficient government education.

  • diggit733 Dec 18, 2007

    I am sickened at you people suggesting they should cut the budget for schools. Are you kidding me? do you have kids in school? Not only do the teachers pend a great deal of thier own money, but parents are asked to go above and beyond normal spending. They have a limit on how many copies a teacher can make and when the students get to go on their ONE field trip...guess what...the parents are asked to pay the gas! I may be wrong, but a "Free" education no longer exists!

  • haggis basher Dec 18, 2007

    think not thing ($%%$%^ typos)

  • haggis basher Dec 18, 2007

    I smell a rat as well......there is no excuse to raise taxs, just reduce the education budget by the same amount. Thats what happens with all this type of funding. Do you really thing the lottery means one more penny for the schools?

  • fuzzmom Dec 18, 2007

    Steve Crisp,

    Put the farms near Falls Lake? Pray tell, that might mean they'd have to widen roads near Falls Lake? Whose gonna pay for that? Hwy 50 already can't handle the traffic it has b/c Wake County won't pay its share to widen the roads. You can't fix one problem with yet another.