Dems, GOP spar over depth of budget cuts

Posted April 28, 2011
Updated April 29, 2011

NC House Democrats held a press conference today on the GOP budget proposal that passed House Appropriations yesterday. 

House Minority Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange, said the proposed cuts would cost more than 20,000 state jobs - more than 18,000 in education alone, according to the Department of Public Instruction.  

The Democrats cited estimates from DPI that the House GOP budget plan would cut 3,700 teachers, 8,900 teaching assistants, 1,100 custodians, and more than 550 assistant principals. Textbook funding would be cut by 68%, classroom supplies by 42%, and dropout prevention programs would be zeroed out.  Those numbers don't include jobs losses at the local level as school boards seek to deal with $40 million in "negative reserve" cuts.

Hackney called the budget plan a "radical shock" that would have "a severe and profound impact" on NC schools. "We've never had anything like this in North Carolina before, to take this kind of a hatchet to public education," he said. 

Dems called on GOP leaders to reconsider letting temporary sales and income taxes expire on schedule June 30th.  Republicans have said they will not extend the $1.4 billion taxes. 

“I think most folks are not going to know when that one-cent sales tax comes off June 30th,” said Rep. Ray Rapp, D-Madison. “But the difference it could make to our education system, to our health and mental health programs across the board, would be critical. And we would not be having the conversation that we’re having today about the draconian cuts that we’re facing.”

Rep. Alma Adams, D-Guilford, agreed with Hackney. “I think more people are going to be concerned about the services they’re going to lose as opposed to that penny that they’re going to save. When people see the services that they were counting on are not there, they’ll rethink that,” Adams said.

Hackney conceded Republicans had campaigned on letting the tax expire. But he doesn’t believe the temporary tax was the deciding factor in the 2010 elections, which he said were subject to external forces that had nothing to do with individual campaigns.

“When you serve as a legislator, you need to be able to adapt to what you see after you see the damage you’re about to do. So the wise course of action for a legislator is to say, do we really want to go through with this much damage?”

“To take 310,000 loss of jobs for this recession,” Hackney continued, “and add another projected at least 25,000 on top of that, just when we’re entering a time of recovery, is not smart.”

When asked about promises that the temporary tax would be temporary, Hackney said no one contemplated the recession would last so long. “I don’t believe promises were made that it would come off at any particular time.”

Hackney also called the proposed 22% cut to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources "draconian."  Hackney 04282011 House Dems: GOP budget "radical shock"

"The environmental cuts will be very damaging to our air and water here in North Carolina," Hackney said. "The jobs in DENR are mostly just people administering permits, looking after our water and our air. Their ability to do their jobs will be severely compromised if this budget goes into effect." 

Watch the whole press conference here: 

GOP: Cuts "exaggerated"

Meantime, Republicans say Democrats are wildly exaggerating the extent of budget cuts to raise support for extending the temporary taxes. 

House Majority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, argued the total number of positions cut from education is 11,000, less than the annual turnover in that agency. "Almost everyone who wants to keep a job will get to keep a job. Most of it will happen through attrition or retirement."  

But the budget also includes a special provision that takes away priority re-hiring status for educators who've been downsized. When asked about it, Stam said he wasn't familiar with that provision.  

Stam said  the GOP's proposed cuts are far from "draconian." He says they're somewhere between 4 and 5 percent of current-year spending in education, and 6 to 7 percent of spending in the budget overall.  

He also said that the biggest beneficiaries of the budget will be everyday families, who will see "a billion and a half dollars of tax rate reduced, mostly sales tax," when the temporary taxes expire. 

The cost of the penny tax to the median family has been estimated at around 80 dollars a year, give or take a few dollars. But even with the new and increased fees proposed in the House budget, Stam said, "Most families will come out to the better by 10 times more."  


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  • stanmak May 2, 2011

    interesting the DENR is bloated and unsustainable. its weird how when DENR is evaluated by r's d's and DENR directors admit that there need to be cuts...
    more to the point of the thread, why are they still hinting at new taxes to sustain all of this gov't spending??? there were some great softball questions here from our "patriot" LL.


  • Come On_Seriously May 2, 2011

    Interesting news about the cuts to DENR that look suspiciously like someone has a grudge against the agency and is going out of their way to dismantle them under the guise of revenue savings...
    As reported in the Raleigh News and Observer, Senator West (R-Cherokee, co-chair of the Natural adnd Economic Development committee) has had prominent run-ins with environmental regulators at the agency, including a bill he offered in 2003 that would have cut the jobs of two wetland enforcement staff who had cited a friend of West’s for clean water violations.
    Looks like someone does have a grudge and isn't exactly impartial and looking to help the people (besides his pals).
    Kinda makes you wonder what else he's doing that's self serving and not necessarily in the interest of the people.

  • Lucas Turner Apr 29, 2011

    Everyone one is always assuming the Democrats are for the poor and the Republicans are for big business. I looked up the richest congressmenn and found some not so surprising results. Of the top 20 richest congressmen 13 are Democrats. John Kerry was the richest. Two was a Republican and 3-6 Democrats as were 8-10. The saviors of the poor, Feinstein was the 9th richest and Pelosi came in at 23. Kennedy who has since died was 18th richest. The list also included a Rockefeller at four. It appears the rich Democrats grandstand and blow hot air while getting richer and richer while blaming the Republicans for supporting big business while the whole time its the Democrats hiding in the closet to milk the poor man's vote. Very interesting I must say.

  • kjones026 Apr 29, 2011

    f8nbther-----Where have you been the last 12 years? Do you not remember the country enjoying an unemployment rate less than 5% before the liberal bubble busted? Don't speak of something you know nothing about. Spewing liberal filth is not necessary. No one is buying it anymore........

  • josephlawrence43 Apr 29, 2011

    Lucas---I certainly hope you are right..

  • f8nbther Apr 29, 2011

    Joseph, I don't disagree with you. The cold, hard fact though is that business owns the honorables, or dishonorables as the case may be. Business wants the illegals here because they work cheap and there are plenty of them to be had. If one gets popped, there are 20 lined up to take his place. They are profitable. That is the only thing that matters. The R's, and to a lesser extent, the D's, are all about business and profits. Look at the bills introduced and passed. The more money that business takes in, the more the (dis)honorables stand to share in the loot. They will do nothing about illegals until business wants them to. We can cry and moan all we want, but the sad fact is they don't care. Somebody will offer up an obligatory bill, but it won't go anywhere. They don't care about regular people.

  • Lucas Turner Apr 29, 2011

    The voters sent a message to Raleigh last November that stated "No more taxes and out of control spending". Does anyone remember this? The current legislative majority is just trying to implement the platform on which they were elected. They have also attempted to deal with the immigration problem by instituting a Voter ID program. This is a start to getting citizens and legal aliens documented so that we can identify the illegals. Cuts to education (UNC system, public schools and community colleges) will make them rethink grants, loans, scholarships and tuition assistance to illegals. Cuts to DHHS will force them to stop free medical care to illegals. These cuts will also force entitlement programs to be more cautious at who they waste dollars on. We all know the system is full of waste, abuse and fraud and we need to clear these blood suckers out so the deserving can get what they are entitled. In other words force government to be accountable and efficient. They have a plan

  • josephlawrence43 Apr 29, 2011

    The illegals are just that--illegal and are in violation of state and federal laws and can be put in jail. Same goes for the honorables who do not enforce existing laws--which makes THEM criminals as well--a crime is defined as any action, or lack of action, for which a penalty is prescribed by the state. They don't follow the law--why should we???

  • f8nbther Apr 29, 2011

    Of course they're willing to sacrifice ordinary citizens on the altar of big business. The illegals who are here will remain here as long as business deems them profitable. You'll hear the huffing and puffing from the dishonorables and their acolytes, but that's all you'll here. You'll see no meaningful legislation regarding illegals in any fashion because business owns a president, 50 Governors, 50 legislatures and one Congress.

    Tax cuts will bring jobs? Not in this lifetime. If tax cuts were the answer to jobs, why hasn't it happened over the last 12 years. Gutting education will help bring new business? Only if you're delusional. We'll be in the same shape in two years because of a stupid no tax pledge signed by the current majority. Nobody, and I mean nobody with any sense throws basic tools out of a toolbox that they need to do a job well. Except for this crew who seem to follow the mantra - "if it ain't broke, let's break it. And when we break it, let's don't fix it." The key,

  • josephlawrence43 Apr 29, 2011

    Does anybody reckon the honorables will even dare to mention the $1.3 Billion that the state shells out for 300,000 illegal aliens? Rather than deal with the illegals, they are willing to sacrifice services and such that rightly belong to the CITIZENS of North Carolina..