Perdue: NC cannot sustain more education cuts
Posted November 1, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — As state lawmakers prepare to return to Raleigh next week, leaders are already starting work on the 2012-13 budget.
State education spending was cut by about $350 million as Republican lawmakers passed a budget that erased a $2.5 billion deficit without increasing taxes.
Gov. Beverly Perdue, whose veto of the budget was overridden, said Tuesday that public schools in North Carolina will be in worse financial shape next year if the state doesn't find more money for education.
Many school districts used federal recovery money they had tucked away to patch budget holes for the 2011-12 school year.
"Next year, they don't have that luxury," Perdue said. "There's not one extra federal dollar from the recovery in North Carolina. They've all been spent. The law required it to be spent."
Congress recently defeated a bill that would have helped states pay teachers next year. So, it's up to the state to find more money for education next year.
House and Senate leaders have said their budget funded every teacher and teaching assistant position in the state. Figures from the state Department of Public Instruction, however, show that more than 1,800 teachers and teaching assistants lost their jobs.
"You can't make a $300 million cut in education and not feel certain that there are going to be positions eliminated in public schools," Perdue said. "It's just disingenuous, so folks just need to stand up and tell the truth about it."
Other state agencies are also desperate for funds.
"The biggest cuts – the most painful cuts other than to education – are going to be the cuts to Medicaid," the governor said. "You see people who are cut off from services across North Carolina because of the underfunding of the budget."
Perdue said she wants Republican legislative leaders to consider reinstating a one-cent sales tax that they allowed to expire at the end of June. House Speaker Thom Tillis said that isn't likely.
"We will continue to work for solutions to our education challenges, but raising taxes is not one of them," Tillis said. "Part of the solution is right-sizing state government, and the governor's track record on Medicaid and other issues shows that responsibly reducing the scope of government may be beyond her leadership abilities."