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@NCCapitol

Senate budget-writers take public comment

Posted June 11, 2012
Updated June 12, 2012

The Senate Appropriations Committee heard an hour of comments Tuesday morning – the only chance the public has had to weigh in on the Senate's proposed $20.2 billion spending plan.

The budget proposal was rolled out overnight Sunday and officially unveiled at a press conference Monday morning. Senate chided, praised for budget proposal Senate chided, praised for budget proposal

"I'd like to commend you for a grown-up budget the Senate has proposed that is fiscally responsible and that paves the way for more improvements in 2013," Becki Gray, vice president of outreach for the conservative John Locke Foundation, told lawmakers.

The Senate spending plan includes no tax or fee increases, but it does have some major differences from the House plan. Those differences include:

  • No money to replace $258 million in federal EduJobs (Recovery Act) funds that will expire later this year. LEAs will have to find the money to make up for that gap elsewhere.
  • Raises of 1.2 percent for state employees and teachers, though the $84 million set aside for teacher raises will, according to administrators, almost certainly be used to make up the EduJobs gap instead.
  • No funding for Eugenics Compensation. The House budgeted about $11 million.
  • $47 million set aside to fund Senate Leader Phil Berger's education reform initiative, modeled on a 2002 Florida program. Critics of the proposal point out that N.C. children currently outscore their Florida peers in several areas on national standardized tests.
  • Ferry tolls are reinstated and made mandatory, with no exemption for Ocracoke/Hatteras and Knotts Island/Currituck, the two routes with no land-based alternative routes. The House put all the ferry tolls on hold for a year. 
  • Programs that reduce infant mortality rates have had their pass-through block grant funding nearly zeroed out. The House budget appropriates nearly $800,000 to those programs. 
  • No money for statewide tobacco use prevention and cessation programs. The House had $10 million, which was a substantial cut already.
  • A 30 percent cut in teen pregnancy prevention funding.

Many of those offering comments Tuesday asked Senate budget-writers to reconsider some of their funding decisions, such as cutting money to tobacco prevention programs and omitting compensation for eugenics victims.

"Please don't give up on us. We try so hard every day to just help save a life from the devastation of tobacco," said Kristi Andrews, the widow of Justin Andrews, a lung cancer victim who appeared in television ads for Tobacco Reality Unfiltered. "Please don't give up on the next generation. We need the funding."

Mark Bold with the Justice for Sterilization Victims Project asked senators to follow the House's lead in providing money to eugenics victims.

"Providing relief to those citizens that this state has injured is the just and righteous thing to do. Time is running out," Bold told lawmakers.

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  • DoingMyBest Jun 13, 2012

    "But administration is only about 1% of the total cost. They aren't going to cut themselves and then again, any meaningful cut would have to be teachers as they are the bulk of the budget."

    That is true of central office, but there is much more administrative overhead in each school using funds that could be used to hire classroom teachers but as Danny22 said, those positions seem to be untouchable.

  • Plenty Coups Jun 12, 2012

    "Administration is top heavy and the add-on positions are never placed in jeopardy, just the classroom teacher, which is a political ploy"

    But administration is only about 1% of the total cost. They aren't going to cut themselves and then again, any meaningful cut would have to be teachers as they are the bulk of the budget.

    "And no teacher should be able to retire at age 51 and draw a full salary. "

    No teacher does. After 30 years, you get full benefits, which increasingly under GOP attack don't amount to much. Healthcare is the 70/30 plan w/ 2000 or so deductible. Pay is approx. 55%.

    "We should give the teachers a good raise this year and tone down the cushy retirements."

    Republicans chose to go another year without honoring contracts, without raising pay, and also reduced benefits.

  • Plenty Coups Jun 12, 2012

    storcheim-"I know you and I disagree almost always, but I do think it's wrong that they've broken the teachers' contracts."

    Thanks storcheim. I appreciate your open mind. I think today we agree on more than we disagree... til next time.

  • Danny22 Jun 12, 2012

    Education costs entirely too much. Administration is top heavy and the add-on positions are never placed in jeopardy, just the classroom teacher, which is a political ploy. When you study private schools, home schools, and charter schools you will see that some real changes need to be made. And no teacher should be able to retire at age 51 and draw a full salary. We should give the teachers a good raise this year and tone down the cushy retirements.

  • storchheim Jun 12, 2012

    Thanks, Plenty, I missed that. Now I know. I know you and I disagree almost always, but I do think it's wrong that they've broken the teachers' contracts. The govt is truly out of control. They no longer represent us, they rule us.

  • timtooltime777 Jun 12, 2012

    Yes a flat tax would be fair for the people by the people but that will not happen ! Special intrests run N.C. goverment, not the people !

  • VT1994Hokie Jun 12, 2012

    A 1.2% pay raise for teachers and retirees. This is Wrong. It has been 4 years now. It's hard to understand the work that teachers and retirees put forth to educate our youth to get this small amount. Everyone knows about the waste in Raleigh, NC. Our legislature just haven't been fair over the years. Had they been a teacher or administrator they would vote differently.

  • Plenty Coups Jun 12, 2012

    storcheim-"Plenty, you glossed over the abolition of tenure, but that promise was broken too."

    The senate passed the end of tenure a week ago.

  • storchheim Jun 12, 2012

    "Cut funds for teen pregnancy prevention while making access to family planning even harder." Kaitlyn

    It costs nothing for a teen to say "No." First part solved.

    50 cents will buy a condom out of a vending machine IF - and I doubt it - there is no money at all to go to a doctor. Planned Parenthood gives out info for free, so does the school nurse. Second part solved.

    If teens are getting pregnant in this day, it's deliberate and they should be treated as the independent, SELF SUPPORTING adults they think they are. Stop seizing my money for their "choices". I do not care what happens to them or their offspring, any more than they care about graciously allowing me to keep the money I worked for so I can eat something besides cat food in my dotage.

    Ever notice how the "compassion" only goes in one direction?

  • storchheim Jun 12, 2012

    In spite of the usual suspects' efforts to make this all about teacher raises and nothing else, there were several items listed in the article.

    I'm in agreement with every one of them. These are either programs that were intended to be temporary (stimulus), are wasteful and unfair (eugenics which were probably not all that misguided, and the "victims" group never gets enough free cash), penalize the taxpayer for individual choices (teen pregnancy, ferry tolls), or push rope uphill (infant mortality while continuing to increase payouts for women who can't afford kids or doctors).

    The only thing I question is why we're aping the Florida program if our kids are doing better than theirs.

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