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Budget deal: Some money for schools, none for eugenics victims

Posted June 20, 2012
Updated June 21, 2012

State budget

— House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Temp Phil Berger outlined the $20.2 billion budget deal that legislative leaders inked late Tuesday during a news conference Wednesday morning. 

Lawmakers haven't released copies of the budget to the public, but Berger and Tillis said that it included a 1.2 percent raise for state employees and public school teachers.

The new budget plan will take effect July 1 if it becomes law. 

Republicans control both the House and Senate, but the two chambers created very different budget proposals. The compromise plan represents a merger of those two proposals.

Both Tillis and Berger said they hoped Gov. Beverly Perdue, a Democrat, would sign off on the plan rather than veto it. But Perdue has insisted for months that a tax increase was needed to augment education spending, something Republicans were unwilling to do. 

Two high-profile items sought by House leaders were not included: funding for eugenics victims and language creating a tax credit for companies that fund private school tuition programs for low-income students. 

"There was no ability to develop consensus on one particular path forward," Berger said of the eugenics bill.

While the House had passed a package that would give $50,000 to each victim of North Carolina's state-sponsored sterilization program from the early and mid-20th century, Senators balked.

Tillis characterized the lack of eugenics funding as "a personal failure" but said the Senate simply wouldn't budge on the issue.

Rep. Earline Parmon, D-Forsyth, said not including payment in the final budget is a betrayal.

"This year, we said that we would do something, that we would pass this compensation bill. We lied to the people of North Carolina who were victimized by us," Parmon said.

NC General Assembly 4x3 Lawmakers send spending plan to Perdue

The Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation, which has verified 146 and 15 deceased victims of the eugenics program in 57 counties statewide, said it immediately suspended requests to verify other victims. Foundation executive director Charmaine Fuller Cooper said the panel's funding ends on June 30 since the budget includes no new money for it.

As for the scholarship program, Tillis said the issue was still alive and might be handled in a separate bill.

The Senate is expected to vote on the budget Thursday. A House vote will be scheduled for Friday unless all the members of the chamber agree to waive a House rule to allow for a Thursday vote. 

Specific items in the budget as detailed by Berger, Tillis and other budget writers include: 

  • A 1.2 percent raise for teachers and state workers. The Senate version of the budget would have allowed schools to use money for raises to offset other cuts to education funding. The compromise plan, Berger said, adjusts the salary schedule. Retirees in the state pension plan are also slated for a cost-of-living increase.
  • A $251 million boost to education funding. This money helps roll back "flexibility cuts" to schools, money that public school systems have to hand back to the state government every year. The $251 million roughly compensates for the loss of federal EduJobs money that expires this summer. However, schools will still see roughly $82 million less in overall state and federal funding.
    Importantly, the new education money is "recurring" money that will be available through tax funding in future years. House leaders had used one-time savings to back-fill education funding. That would have created a hole that next year's budget would have to fill, and Senators refused to use one-time money to fill recurring expenses.
  • Major pieces of an education reform plan put forward by Berger. Students who do not pass reading tests by the end of third grade could not move on to fourth grade. The state will also create a new A through F grading system for public schools. It also creates a merit pay system for public school teachers.
  • A cap on the state gas tax. Both the House and Senate budget would limit the gas tax to 37.5 cents per gallon for the next year.
  • About $2.7 million for smoking cessation programs. That is far short of the $17.3 million smoking prevention advocates were requesting.
  • $250,000 to study how to regulate natural gas drilling in the state. Lawmakers are about to send Perdue a bill that would pave the way to legalize a drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," in North Carolina.
  • Flexibility for the Department of Public Safety to hire parole officers. According to Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, the budget doesn't give the department extra funding but does allow it to shift money from empty positions into new probation and parole positions. That shift is important, because last year's Justice Reinvestment Act emphasized so-called community corrections as a way to both save money and help offenders reintegrate into society.
  • Tolls on coastal ferries. The Cherry Point-Minnesott run was exempted from this. Ferries to Ocracoke and Hatteras islands were exempted from fee increases as part of last year's budget. The plan to increase ferry tolls and toll more routes has sparked opposition from coastal communities and led to a showdown between the legislature and Perdue. In this budget, lawmakers basically return to plans to raise revenue on ferry routes.
  • A $100 million reserve for unexpected shortfalls in Medicaid. The budget also boosts the basic Medicaid budget by $212 million to adjust for cost overruns seen this year that are likely to continue. The budget also calls for a full audit of the Medicaid program, said Sen. Pete Brunstetter, R-Forsyth.

Representatives of teachers and state workers gave the plan tepid approval.

"Bottom line is, this is a step in the right direction from where we were about to go," said Brian Lewis, government affairs director of the North Carolina Association of Educators.

Ardis Watkins, legislative affairs director for the State Employees Association of North Carolina, said state workers and retirees haven't had a raise in four years.

"(It) is not as much as we would like to see," Watkins said of the 1.2 percent raise, "but the Senate took a step in the right direction, and we're glad to see the end result."

335 Comments

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  • storchheim Jun 21, 6:13 p.m.

    starrstacey, why do you specify 200 days a year, which is 10 months (correct?), then turn right around and divide by 12 (months), I assume? Compare apples to apples, but if you're saying that you work 10 months but are then diluting your pay with the months you don't work, I'm at a complete loss.

    Also, since you don't give individual attention to each kid each day, it might be more realistic to use classes or lesson plans as your piece rate, not noses.

  • starrstacey Jun 21, 5:18 p.m.

    okay, then let's do the gross.

    $30,430 divided by 200.

    $152.15 a day divide that by 8 hours.

    $19.01 an hour.

    And that's still not taking into consideration all the extra hours put in. That's how it works with a salaried job. We don't clock out when the 8 hour day is over.

    Now, let's have even more fun with this. A first year high school teacher will have on average 85 students a day.

    $152.15 divided by 85

    $1.79 per kid taught. That's a pretty awesome daycare rate if you ask me. Not to mention the fact that the student gains from the experience of school.

  • storchheim Jun 21, 4:57 p.m.

    starrstacey, it doesn't work that way. You use the gross. Not the net, the gross. People can have different withholdings and different insurance plans.

    Surprised a teacher didn't know that.

  • starrstacey Jun 21, 4:27 p.m.

    Billfisher--Please allow me to clear this up for you.

    Teachers work 200 days a year.

    My paycheck after taxes, insurance, and retirement each month is $1,837.56 Let's multiply that by 12. 22,050.72

    okay now let's divide by 200.

    110.25 each day worked.

    divided by 8 hours a day.

    $13.78/hr.

    That doesn't include all of the hours I put in "off the clock" for planning, grading, writing reference letters, and extra curricular activities.

    $13.78 an hour to teach 30+ kids. Yeah, you're right. I don't deserve the $22 extra a month this "raise" would give me.

  • randall0123a Jun 21, 4:22 p.m.

    The term "victim" is grossly over-used in regards to Eugenics patients. For all patients that had a family member sign the request/permission form, those people can feel free to sue their family. For those that were given the choice between continued welfare or receive the procedure, if they chose money over the ability to breed, then obviously it was their choice and money was more important – again, not a victim. There may be true victims, but I have yet to hear of any. The only victims are tax payers that must again now have less of the money they earn for their own families so irresponsible people don't have to live with the consequences of their choices. Temporary assistance is fine, but long-term tax money is not. The break down in morality is not in Eugenics, but the fact that it was even necessary. Too many people apparently have no idea what responsibility and consequences are.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Jun 21, 2:31 p.m.

    I beleive these people needs to move on. If given that large sum of money, it would not last them 2 day. They would blow it all away on nothing.

  • InnocentBystander22 Jun 21, 2:24 p.m.

    I am a state employee, and I feel that people think we don't deserve a pay raise. I agree, some of us are lazy and incompetent, but that does not mean that we all are!!! We all play a part in how this state is viewed and how it operates. State employees who demonstrate excelent work ethic, and strong leadership should get a raise, but those of us who are not committed to our jobs shouldn't even be employed. I serve at the mercy of the people of this state, and I am proud of that.

  • piene2 Jun 21, 2:22 p.m.

    "none for eugenics victims"

    Well considering the fact that it was racists that initiated the program it is illogical to think that the racists in our "North East Mississippi" legislature would have any interest in righting the wrongs that the program brought to so many people.

  • InnocentBystander22 Jun 21, 2:17 p.m.

    Sorry for the spelling error in that last post, I was in a rush.

  • InnocentBystander22 Jun 21, 2:16 p.m.

    Thishas nothing to do with welfare, where are you people getting this from?, welfare is a gov't handout to the needy, this is compensation for all the years of emotional and physical suffering by these victims.

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