Lawmakers find money to lessen cuts to schools

Posted May 24, 2012

State budget

— A North Carolina budget subcommittee has recommended a two-thirds reduction in the amount of money local school districts would be required to return to state government next year.

The House education subcommittee and similar panels that oversee spending for large government categories met Thursday and voted on changes to the second year of the two-year government spending plan. The full budget is expected to be considered next week by the House.

The education committee agreed to reduce the amount local districts return to the state from a projected $503 million to $170 million. The move would make up for about $259 million in federal funding that runs out next month and would roll back another $75 million in cuts scheduled to start in July.

"(School districts) have to be absolutely elated seeing this budget that we have replaced the federal money," said Rep. Bryan Holloway, a House budget writer.

The moves keep school districts essentially at the same spending levels as last year when federal funds are included.

"That's a positive," said Brian Lewis, government relations director for the North Carolina Association of Educators. "(It's) not exactly where the governor was – she eliminated the entire discretionary cut – but we feel that this is a good start."

Gov. Beverly Perdue issued a statement late Wednesday criticizing the House proposal.

“The House's actions on education today barely maintain the status quo, and as local superintendents from around the state have been saying for months, the status quo is not adequate,” Perdue said in a statement.

Page from House budget proposal House shifts money around to help schools, DHHS

The governor cited the $170 million in discretionary cuts and the committee's decision not to include $93 million she asked for to reduce class sizes in kindergarten through third grade and to include $25 million less than what she proposed for pre-kindergarten programs.

Perdue has been lobbying for a 0.75-cent increase to the state sales tax rate to generate more money for education, but Republican legislative leaders said they have no plans to consider any new taxes.

Holloway, R-Rockingham, said he's unsure where the extra education money came from.

"Big chairs give. We spend. I don't ask questions," he said, referring to senior budget writers.

One of those "big chairs," Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, said the state is generating more revenue, and lawmakers freed up money "by setting priorities."

There's more money in other places, too. The Department of Health and Human Services, for example, would get $165 million more.

"What we have done as Republicans is taken the funds that are available – no tax increases – and shifted those to the areas of greatest need," Dollar said.

The money trail isn't the only mystery. Some budget items are missing, such as raises or bonuses for teachers and state workers and a proposed cap on the state gas tax.

House leaders said those items would be in a separate finance package expected next week. Once the House completes its budget updates, the Senate will make its adjustments.

"There is a lot of work left in the legislative budget process. The General Assembly needs to do better," Perdue said.


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  • davidk_at_unc May 25, 2012

    "why? romney said yesterday that class size makes NO difference to student performance." -- archmaker

    Yeh, I saw that too. Interesting comment from a man who spend all his early years in private prep schools!

  • davidk_at_unc May 25, 2012

    "Outlaw free public welfare education. Tax the people who have children to support the schools." -- superman

    Stuporman, don't you have any other records? This one's getting really old and scratchy.

  • archmaker May 25, 2012

    Eliminate ESL programs and only legal US children attend schools. That should cut some cost and reduce class size. NE Raleigh

    why? romney said yesterday that class size makes NO difference to student performance.

  • smegma May 25, 2012

    where did they find money again? the lottery? no? oh.

  • artist May 25, 2012

    Excellent job Lawmakers!

    You are finding ways to spend our money appropriately without raising taxes right now.

    Both Dem and Rep voters salute you.

  • tightywhitey2 May 25, 2012

    It seems lawmakers can find money to do what ever they want. Take John Edwards for example.

  • jacamoe May 25, 2012

    iprep, you're right. I should just be happy to have a job. I nor the rest of the teachers in NC should get a raise again. Only minimum wage goes up , but don't you dare let our pay increase one dime. We love our job and will continue to have quality teachers at this blistering pace of appreciation our great state shows us. Thank YOU!!! For all YOU do.

  • NE Raleigh May 25, 2012

    Eliminate ESL programs and only legal US children attend schools. That should cut some cost and reduce class size.

  • LambeauSouth May 25, 2012

    Outlaw free public welfare education. Tax the people who have children to support the schools. If you think it is fair that people without children pay for your childs education you are so wrong. But then people on the receiving end always seem to think they are entitled to other peoples money.

    Hey Stuperman, Did someone pay for yours?
    Seems your Parents footed the bill as others for your education, now is time to "Pay it Forward"
    and Basically, to stop your whining!

  • pbjbeach May 25, 2012

    Question? how is it that lawmakers just find money when an where evr their little hearts do so desire it is just like prego it is an has all been in there it is more about their spending prioritys than an actual real shortage of funding for any state issues. ann the only thing that these current repbulican legisture see fit to fund is for something that benefits the most well heeled an the richest amongest us for they care not for the poor or the afflected or the people with serious mental handdicaps anthe surely are not for the public sector employees in thi state not all an because for years all state employes have had to listen to with respect any form of a salary increase is that the state of north carolina is broke an they dont have the funds to pay for any form of raises for public sector employees. as i stated eariler in the posting it is all about spending prioritys for the current legisture there surely wasnt any form of a problem with spending or shortages of funds when the s