State Senate leaders posted their spending targets for education today.
Overall, they're planning to spend about $40 million less than the House - their total cut would be $1,292,000,000. But the distribution of the cuts would differ substantially from the House plan.
Under the Senate plan, cuts to K-12 education would be $800 million. That's about a 15% deeper cut than the House proposal, and more than twice the cut included in Perdue's budget.
Cuts to the community college system would be about 19% deeper than the House plan: $132 million, compared to the House's $111 million.
But the news for the university system was (relatively) good: the Senate plan would put back about 20% of the money the House took away, easing down from a $447 million cut to about $360 million.
Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt called the proposal "just devastating."
Nesbitt said schools already suffered 5-10% cuts under Democratic leaders in 2009 and 2010. "When you've got those cuts already, and you put these on top of them, it's just a death blow," he said.
A spokeswoman for Governor Bev Perdue called her "thoroughly angry" about the Senate targets.
"I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her this frustrated,” said spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson. "She looked at these numbers and compared them to her own budget, which was hard enough to have to come to, and a House budget which would have already resulted in the largest mass layoff of education personnel in state history - and then to add this on top of that?"
"It’s hard to imagine how far backward this would take our state. If not dead last, then close to it. And that’s not a place we can afford to be right now," Pearson said.
Senate Education chair Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, stressed that the numbers are just targets. "We're trying to make a little balance in the cuts. You can't go overboard anywhere. There's not enough money to go around." Tillman on Senate education cuts
"We're in a position that's causing a lot of harm," Tillman continued. "But I want everyone to remember - Jerry Tillman and the Republicans did not put us in this box were in. I'm not taking the blame for it. I am not going there."
Watch Tillman's unedited comments at right.