Deal or no deal?

Posted May 30, 2011
Updated May 31, 2011

Just last week, Senate Republicans were touting an "education reform" initiative that would cut 13,000 teachers' assistants in grades 1-3, an expense GOP budget writers say hasn't been proven to improve student performance. The cut, which would save the state more than $390 million, would be offset by funding for 1,100 new K-3 teachers to reduce class sizes - a move Republicans say will improve education at a much lower cost.

But as early as Friday afternoon, rumors started swirling that Republican leaders were reconsidering that swap after a pretty straightforward veto warning from Gov. Perdue.  

Under the new deal, Senate GOP leaders told WRAL today, the Senate would trade its income tax cut – one-quarter percent for each bracket – to keep teachers' assistants in kindergarten and 1st-grade classrooms (and some 2nd-grade classrooms) at a cost of between $260 and $290 million.  At least half the cost would be funded from the tax-cut rollback. The rest would come from the rainy day fund, repairs and renovations, and what little the Senate left unspent on its bottom line.

That theory seemed to be bolstered by this afternoon's announcement that, instead of voting on the budget tomorrow, Senate leaders would send the budget bill back to Appropriations Tuesday.  Leslie Senate budget Senate budget changes

Under the Senate's budget rules, any changes made on the floor have to be revenue-neutral – that is, they wouldn't change the bottom line for any given budget area. Rolling back the tax cut and adding to the budget's bottom line would violate that rule, so that would have to happen in committee.

Watch our 6:00 pm discussion of it at right.

Thirty minutes later, just when we thought we'd figured it out, the Senate Appropriations committee corrected its agenda. The budget bill is no longer on it. It's just "TBA."

What happens to the Senate budget Tuesday is anyone's guess at this point.  This kind of legislative uncertainty at this point in the budget-writing process is unusual.  But then, so is the situation they're faced with: a governor of the opposing party who's armed with a veto stamp and sufficient legislative support to make it stick.

We'll keep you updated here Tuesday, and we'll try to bring you the Senate Appropriations meeting live at WRAL.com at 1:00 pm – assuming it actually happens, of course.


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  • dlphnwmn8 May 31, 2011

    There is no better example of the saying “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” than this. And power they have. But are they acting as good stewards of their power? Instead of taking the moral high ground, as Berger states he knows of our hardships, and sending a clean bill (HB 676) to Perdue, he and every single republican instead elected to be cold, callous and vindictive when offered the chance to vote on legislation to restore benefits immediately. Remember this from just last week “Amendment failed on party lines. All Rs voted to keep benefit fix tied to budget measure. All Ds voted to separate them.” Which means Berger (and Tillis) continue to speak for all the republicans. In this interview Berger made it crystal clear he and the other republicans know we are experiencing extreme hardship and stress. But too bad. Unless they get what they want, we get nothing and continue to give up everything. Berger could not have made it any plainer that they just don’t care.

  • 1 awesome Dad May 30, 2011

    Thank you Ms. Leslie on your up to the minute reporting on the circus on Jones St. Hopefully they will get it all figured out soon.