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N.C. public schools chief talks temporary sales tax

Posted June 3, 2009

— The chief executive officer of North Carolina's public schools says a tax increase is necessary to spare schools some dramatic budget cuts.

Bill Harrison said Wednesday that he thinks lawmakers should consider a temporary sales-tax increase or a tax hike on cigarettes and alcohol to buffer education from deep spending cuts.

"The budget, as we see it now, will be devastating to public schools. And I think it's time we consider another source of revenue," Harrison said. "I think that if we don’t find increased revenue, we will be hurt."

The budget plans, as they are laid out right now, reduce the number of teachers, an increased the class size … he said he would want the money to go to help fund schools with a low tax base and administrating a school building.

He also said it was likely lawmakers would increase class sizes to narrow a $4.6 billion budget gap for next year but urged them to exempt such a change in grades K-3.

Increasing class sizes would mean some teachers would lose their jobs.

"There has to be a class-size increase," Harrison said. "Probably 85 to 91 percent of our budget is people. Most of our people are classroom teachers."

Harrison said he was concerned that proposed budget reductions in the public schools would send education back 20 or 30 years in the process.

Harrison was Gov. Beverly Perdue's handpicked leader to run the public schools. He said he doesn't know whether Perdue supports all of his suggestions.

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  • terrie Jun 4, 2009

    I agree that there will need to be tax increases as well as budget cuts in order to ensure the survival of the state's education and human services systems. However, sales tax is always an easy way out for politicians and it hurts the people who can afford it least. Why not simply increase state income taxes on those who make more than $250,000 a year? For those who say "I earned that money and I deserve to keep it." I doubt that you work any harder than a health care technician who earns under $20,000 a year.

  • time4real Jun 4, 2009

    NO BILL, NO BILL, NO BILL, you're a puppet and we won't pay another dime until all the schools are cleaned of the waste that isn't working! There are MILLIONS alone in Wake County being wasted! Busing, reassignments, year round school, F&R lunch for those who don't qualify, NO BILL, NO BILL and NO BILL!

  • Bendal1 Jun 4, 2009

    How about "no"? A "temporary" tax has a bad tendency to turn into a "long term temporary" tax, and then a "permanent" one. It opens the door for yet more taxation as well. The Education department needs to tighten purse strings and accept that all the money they could possibly want will NOT be forthcoming for the next few years. If that means more students per classroom, fewer administrators and managers, less field trips, then fine, get to it. Keep the # of teachers as high as possible though; that's where you get the most "bang for the buck", not in filling all the offices in that gigantic Education building in downtown Raleigh.

  • gammasandi Jun 3, 2009

    what gives him the right to propose anything when no one wants him there except Bev

  • Weaker Pelosi Jun 3, 2009

    He has one hail of a nerve. He isn't supposed to be in there anyway. The governor went against the wishes of the voters and the state constitution when appointing him to that position. And will not come off of that appointment even in the wake of a lawsuit that the state/governor will lose in court.

  • I guess I will just type this Jun 3, 2009

    I'm so glad I went to private school. No, I'm not/wasn't a rich guy/kid, it was free b/c I was a member of the affiliated church. Just think, NONE of your tax dollars went to my education. Now I get to pay for all of your kids to go, sounds fair...

  • K9Tucker.LoveMYcop Jun 3, 2009

    No such thing as temporary....food tax. What ever happened to all that wonderful money the lottery was going to bring our schools. These people are so full of it. The teaches are getting .....(you know) and so are the children. I say get rid of the public school chief's position and put that money in the budget. They really need to STOP taking away from our teachers and children. They need to remember who will be running this country when they retire.

  • panthers254 Jun 3, 2009

    what about all that lottery money we were "supposed" to have.
    cough cough

  • cjones2360 Jun 3, 2009

    ALSO, quit building so many brand new school facilities. Expand the ones we have. It has to be more economical

  • psm5000 Jun 3, 2009

    Lots of good & sensible comments on this subject. Some of you should run for office---seriously. I totally support an overhaul of the education system and weeping cuts from the top, before a single teacher is cut. You know darn well that boatloads of $$$ is being squandered & most of it at the top. Shall we start by eliminating an unnecessary duplicate job at the very top?

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