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Judge: State owes schools $748M in civil fines

Posted August 12, 2008

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— A Superior Court judge has determined that state agencies owe North Carolina school districts $747.9 million in civil fines and forfeitures that weren't paid out over the past 12 years.

Judge Howard Manning didn't set a deadline for paying the debt, which has been the subject of a lawsuit for the past decade.

The state Supreme Court ruled three years ago that state agencies had wrongly kept administrative fines that constitutionally belonged to public schools. Manning has been trying since then to determine exactly how much was owed the schools.

In an order filed Friday, he determined the state Department of Revenue owes $583.4 million, the Department of Transportation owes $104.1 million in vehicle weight violations, University of North Carolina campuses owe $42.4 million in parking fines, the Employment Security Commission owes $20 million, the Department of Health and Human Services owes $53,955, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources owes $20,781 and the Department of Commerce owes $11,560.

The money will go into the state's Civil Fines and Forfeitures Fund, which would then distribute the money to the state's school districts based on enrollment to help pay for technology needs.

"North Carolina is woefully behind in providing students the essential technology they will need to compete in the 21st century. This judgment will help close that gap," Ed Dunlap, president of the North Carolina School Boards Association, said in a statement.

Rosa Gill, chairwoman of the Wake County school board, said she is excited by the ruling but also has reservations.

"Part of the 21st century student is technology. They must be literate in technology," Gill said. "We just hope it doesn't supplant the amount of money that we normally get from the state."

Manning noted in his 12-page order that he doesn't have the authority to force the General Assembly to appropriate funds, so state lawmakers have to determine how best to pay the debt.

A slowing economy is expected to pinch the state budget next year, and Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand said he has no idea where lawmakers will find the money to pay what is owed to schools.

"They have always honored the rulings of the courts in North Carolina, and we assume that they will continue to do that and live up to their constitutional obligations," said Leanne Winner, director of governmental relations for the School Boards Association.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • taxpayernvoter Aug 15, 2008

    What WRAL really needs to report on this story is the fact that state employees who work at the UNC System schools (many of whom barely make minimum wage) will be the ones who pay back this debt, not the administrators who created the problem.

  • gotitmadecij Aug 13, 2008

    How much money do the schools need , they get everything ie: all criminal and now civil fines , dwi seizures, lottery money, etc . They dont seem to have any accountablity for whats being done with it. Hey if you could show me where spending X dollars tranlated into x points for grades then I would say have at it

  • Eduardo1 Aug 12, 2008

    great ruling your honor. The State in theory will pay ITSELF. Hey taxpayers, time to assume the position, you will certainly get it in the END

  • whatelseisnew Aug 12, 2008

    Just Once - then send them a check; waste however much of your money you care to flush down the Government School John

  • whatelseisnew Aug 12, 2008

    Wake County has the opportunity to be the best school system in the state, and the government cheats it out of money at every opportunity - like these. - ha ha ha even if it was we would still be far behind the rest of the US and other industrialized countries. I don't care how much money you flush down the GOvernment School toilet. It will still be a toilet.

  • bs101fly Aug 12, 2008


    give me a break.

    schools will NEVER see the money, but you'll be expected to pass another bond next spring because the lottery scam has done little to NOTHING for schools in this county AND because it's YOUR responsibility to make sure all bonds pass in Wake County!

    AFTER they jack your taxes in addition to that!

  • Scrofula Aug 12, 2008

    "Can you see now why there was a lawsuit? This issue was nowhere near as black and white as some of you are making it out to be."

    Actually, it is pretty black and white. Read the rest of the section. The ownership of the funds is clearly stated as being the public schools. The state may place it in a fund, but they are still bound to appropriate it solely for the schools. Any other use of the money is unconstitutional.

  • bs101fly Aug 12, 2008

    and you know what else is laughable? some of you clueless folk taking the bait that 88% of the lottery scam actually goes to education.

    88% of your taxes go to schools?

    Where DO you folks get your #'s, Kroger??

    Guess again!

  • bs101fly Aug 12, 2008

    this is laughable. the VERY ones who disrespect Manning's rulings are to get 70 million??
    Won't happen simply becasue you can't give something you ain't got!
    No matter if Manning says so OR NOT!

  • CrewMax Aug 12, 2008

    "Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand said he has no idea where lawmakers will find the money to pay what is owed to schools."

    Did he just fall off the truck?