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Senate completes override of budget veto

Posted June 15, 2011

— After the House got enough Democratic support in a late-night vote to override Gov. Beverly Perdue's veto of the state budget, Republican senators completed the historic feat Wednesday afternoon.

The Senate voted 31-19 along party lines to enact the budget over Perdue's objections.

"The budget we're looking at balances without a tax increase," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said during the debate.

Other Republican senators called the $19.7 billion budget fiscally responsible, noting it follows the lead of many businesses hit hard by the sluggish economy and reins in spending. They also said voters put the GOP in charge of the General Assembly last fall to cut taxes and spending.

"I don't think we've done anything other than what we promised," said Sen. Don East, R-Surry.

House members met just after midnight Wednesday and voted 73-46 on the override after limiting debate. Five Democrats who voted for the bill when it initially passed last month joined the Republican majority in the House to provide the needed votes for the override.

Perdue is the first North Carolina governor to veto a state budget, and only once before have lawmakers successfully overridden a veto.

The budget, which takes effect July 1, was passed earlier than other recent state spending plans.

"It's significant particularly for local governments and for our local school systems because they now know for certain what they can plan on," said Berger, R-Rockingham.

Republican lawmakers contend that the spending plan is close to the budget Perdue proposed in March, but the governor released a statement Tuesday saying the claim is false.

Senate expected to override budget veto Senate overrides budget veto

Perdue said the proposed budget cuts $257 million more from public education than she proposed, as well as $236 million more from state universities and $69 million from community colleges. The lower funding will force school districts to lay off thousands of teachers and teaching assistants statewide, she said.

Members of the North Carolina Association of Educators had planned to lobby lawmakers Wednesday in an effort to defeat the override, but the late-night vote short-circuited those plans. The group still rallied outside the Legislative Building to voice their displeasure over the budget.

"Our schools, our educators and our children are too important to give up on," NCAE President Sheri Strickland said. "The fight will be continued. We will not be deterred, we will not be silenced and we will not forget."

Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth, said the budget cuts are already being felt, noting that Cumberland County Schools issued about 375 pink slips on Wednesday, including cutting 130 teaching jobs and 179 teacher assistants.

Schools ready for cuts imposed by state Schools ready for cuts imposed by state

"I never thought I'd see the day that we'd come to this," Garrou said.

Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, dismissed the idea that the budget would harm education. He and other Republicans called it fiscally responsible, noting that it cuts spending and taxes to be in line with the lower revenue North Carolina is generating in the sluggish economy.

"Children are going to continue to learn. Everything's going to be fine," Apodaca said. "This Chicken-Little-sky-is-falling routine is getting a little old."

Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt predicted that lawmakers would have trouble with budget adjustments next year because Republicans used local discretionary cuts to reduce state spending instead of taking the zero-based approach of reviewing every spending item that they had promised to use.

"It's a convenient way of (balancing the budget), but I don't think it's very productive," said Nesbitt, D-Buncombe.

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  • jamesnohe Jun 22, 2011

    Yes. Yes it does. Those of you griping about the below poverty-level wages doled out to our amazing TA's need to think it through a bit further...

    1). The expectations placed on classroom teachers have more than doubled in the last ten years, and while most teachers are wired to just shrug and carry the heavier load. After all, teachers ARE there to help kids, and if the state, in it's questionable wisdom, decides something more is necessary to help kids, teachers take on that new task. There are , however, only so many school hours in a day, and the TA's have become a vital piece of the 'getting-it-done' puzzle as schools have evolved to take on ever wider responsibilities.

    2). The 'bang-for-the-buck' seen from that low, low figure of (maybe) $20,000 is the best ROA the state could hope for, given the vast array of tasks performed by Teacher Assistants Especially when you remember (and it seems that many of you don't) that they are working with our most valuable resource.

  • misschris234 Jun 16, 2011

    So, say there are 25K TA jobs in NC... according to data there are more than that, but for S&G's. At 20K a piece, well... you do the math. There are over 4000 TA's in Raleigh alone. Yes, there are many classrooms where a TA is needed, or 2 teachers... but does this state really need over 25,000 teacher assistants???

  • misschris234 Jun 16, 2011

    "misschris234 parent volunteers aren't educating youth in classrooms are they?"

    No, that's what TEACHERS are for... in many careers if you want an assistant, you pay for it out of your pocket. If you can't handle the job on your own, choose another path. What in the world did teachers ever do before TA's????

  • misschris234 Jun 16, 2011

    "misschris234 parent volunteers aren't educating youth in classrooms are they?? Then you talk about saving taxpayers that $20K a year, when NC is billions of dollars in debt "

    That is $20K for EACH TA. sheesh, talk about an irrational thinker LOL. We gave the democrats a chance to fix things for a long time, and if this doesn't work, I'll be the first to admit it, but I'm going to at least give it a chance. Throwing money at the problem has consistently led us down a bad path. Per pupil spending does not, never has equaled better education. Sadly, teachers are not the only people losing their jobs in this economy. Plenty of businesses have been laying off and closing their doors. Public workers aren't the only ones not getting raises, etc. If you owned a business and you were out of money, what would YOU do? I guess you would just keep borrowing money, with no regard to making any money, just so you wouldn't have to let people go? Good luck with that. Sadly, it's not realistic

  • Lamborghini Mercy Jun 16, 2011

    misschris234 parent volunteers aren't educating youth in classrooms are they?? Then you talk about saving taxpayers that $20K a year, when NC is billions of dollars in debt -are u joking- taxpayers pay more than 20k for one prisoner that serves 1yr in jail... The reality is this new budget is only that's going to create a longer list of problems for North Carolina..

  • superman Jun 16, 2011

    Public education=public assistance. No difference between the two except the words. Public education can last for 16-18 years and I guess that is why people think it is so special. There are "some" people that live in this state that dont have children and could care less about having yours go to school. Get over it!

  • Plenty Coups Jun 16, 2011

    "The new budget reduces classroom sizes in grades 1-3 and adds 1000 new teachers"

    Thats smoke and mirrors. They eliminate funding for local districts who will layoff many more than those "1000 teachers" the republicans keep referencing. How about they restore the pay levels for teachers to 2008 levels? Or reinstitute the merit pay for EOG tests they took away years ago. (I know they talk about a "new" merit pay system but they won't fund it. They didn't fund the last one.)

  • Plenty Coups Jun 16, 2011

    mischris-"Sadly in my household when there is no money, we go without, we sacrifice rather than continue spending."

    And that's fine, but you don't also try to cut your revenue at the same time now do you? Eliminating the one penny tax (when we already have lower than avg. taxes) and giving businesses more tax breaks when we are consistently rated one of the most business friendly states seems to be more about ideology than common sense.

  • misschris234 Jun 16, 2011

    "misschris234 you're a prime example of a irrational thinker, you need Janitors to keep a school clean, as well as assistant principals, and some clerical positions"

    Neither I, nor the wording of the budget said that all of those jobs should be eliminated, just the excess. Of course schools need janitors, and clerical positions, just not the amount they currently have. As for TA's, they are needed for special ed but not elementary schools. There are parent volunteers that have been working just fine. TA's were non-existent 20 years ago and they aren't needed except in special circumstances. Save the taxpayers that $20K a year. The new budget reduces classroom sizes in grades 1-3 and adds 1000 new teachers, there is no need for TA's. Did you read that part of the budget since you are informing me of the additional funding needed, I'm guessing not since that is one of the provisions.

  • Lamborghini Mercy Jun 16, 2011

    misschris234 you're a prime example of a irrational thinker, you need Janitors to keep a school clean, as well as assistant principals, and some clerical positions. The only TA's I know are used for special ed classes and some elementary schools.. And with smaller classrooms you will need additional funding to fund more teachers you're requesting.. I guess "the basic's" you were talking about are modern day charter schools and not public school systems, which is in fact the majority.

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