Local Politics

House looks to slash education, human services budgets

Posted May 27, 2009

State budget

— Lawmakers wrestling with a projected $4.5 billion budget deficit are considering deep cuts across most state agencies, with education  and human services taking the biggest hits.

Proposals working their way through House budget-writing committees call for slashing education funding by $1.8 billion through a combination of layoffs, furloughs and tuition increases.

Legislative Building Deep cuts projected in House budget

Suggested cuts include eliminating teacher assistants in third-grade classrooms and increasing class sizes statewide by two students. Lawmakers said larger classes translate into fewer teachers.

"We're looking at probably 6,000 to 8,000 teachers that we will not have to hire next year," said Rep. Ray Rapp, D-Madison, vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "These are last-resort measures that we're taking, but that's the only way we can get anywhere close to having a budget that's balanced."

The House Education Committee has recommended five-day furloughs for public school teachers and employees and nine-day furloughs for faculty and staff members at community colleges and public universities statewide.

Committee members also proposed raising community college and public university tuition by 8 percent.

Money from the federal economic stimulus package will cover about $500 million to $600 million of the proposed cuts, lawmakers said.

The North Carolina Association of Educators has mounted an online campaign against budget cuts.

The group's Web site declares, "We're at war," and asks educators to wear red on what they call "War Wednesdays" to show their commitment to the cause.

Lawmakers also are considering $1.4 billion in cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services, including $55 million from a program that helps elderly people remain in their homes instead of going to assisted-living facilities or nursing homes.

"I don't want to go to a nursing home. Lord knows, I don't want to go to a nursing home," Raleigh resident Ida Davis said.

The 81-year-old woman, who suffers from congestive heart failure and arthritis, said she is able to live at home because a nursing aide helps her out for two hours a day, five days a week.

"Without her, I don't know what I would do," Davis said.

Some lawmakers said the proposed DHHS cuts would force Davis and thousands of other state residents into nursing homes.

"The $4.5 billion deficit that our state is facing, it doesn't just cut to the bone. It's hitting marrow," said Rep. Ty Harrell, D-Wake.

The House could vote on its budget proposal as early as June 10, and House and Senate representatives would then work out a compromise budget for approval.


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  • oldfirehorse May 28, 2009

    "I don't want to hear any more whining about teacher pay...they know what it pays when they get the job and they get 15 weeks of vacation a year. Any more comments?" - carolinagirl965 ------ Yes, I have a comment. NC teachers do not receive 15 weeks of vacation a year. In fact, there are not enough days in their work schedule "allowable" to take most of the vacation that they do receive, and so it just accrues.

  • carolinagirl965 May 28, 2009

    Slash education?? Why so we can raise another generation of idiots like the ones just elected?? I don't want to hear any more whining about teacher pay...they know what it pays when they get the job and they get 15 weeks of vacation a year. Any more comments?

  • oldfirehorse May 28, 2009

    Where did they come up with the $4.5 billion for this article?

  • oldfirehorse May 28, 2009

    As of today, the revenue shortfall is projected at $3.2 billion.

  • groovyguru May 28, 2009

    They always say this to justify raising taxes. They think that if they threaten to cut critical services, we'll cave and open our wallets.

  • oldfirehorse May 28, 2009

    Public Education Budget: $7.98 billion. Cut $1 billion?

  • Halyard May 28, 2009

    This ain't all they're gonna slash!!!

  • uglypurplelips May 28, 2009

    As the mother of a NC Teacher, I know there are a lot more hours of work put in than just the school day hours and my daughter spends quite a bit of her own money to pay for things her students need that either the school or the parents do not provide. I believe there are a lot more state paid "people" who could be cut than simply cutting this massive amount of teachers. What about the governor's pay...maybe she should work long hours for minimum wage and then let's see how she feels. How's that change working out for you???

  • oldfirehorse May 28, 2009

    More things we need not so much:
    NC Acupuncture Licensing Board
    NC Auctioneer Licensing Board
    NC Board of Employee Assistance Professionals
    NC Board of Examiners of Fee-Based Practicing Pastoral Counselors
    NC Board of Landscape Architects
    NC Board of Licensed Professional Counselors NC Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy NC Board of Podiatry Examiners NC Locksmith Licensing Board NC Marriage and Family Therapy Licensure Board NC Public Officers and Employees Liability Insurance Commission NC State Board of Chiropractic Examiners NC State Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners NC State Board of Electrolysis Examiners NC State Hearing Aid Dealers and Fitters Board NC Substance Abuse Professional Certification Board NC Midwifery Joint Committee (of Medical Board and Board of Nursing)

  • oldfirehorse May 28, 2009

    Education, health; things we need.
    Things we need, not so much:
    Department of Cultural Resources:

    North Carolina Historical Commission
    USS NC Battleship Commission
    Historical Publications NC Symphony North Carolina Arts Council North Carolina Museum of Art North Carolina Museum of History Office of Archives and History Office of State Archaeology State Historic Preservation Office State Historic Sites Section Tryon Palace Historic Sites and Gardens