Senate leaders defend education cuts

Posted May 29, 2014

— Senate leaders Thursday morning outlined cuts in K-12 spending that will cover most of proposed teacher raises in their 2014-15 budget.

On Wednesday, they unveiled a proposed $465 million teacher salary increase proposal but declined to explain how they would pay for it.

Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday that budget writers "took about $390 million out of K-12 to put into the teacher salary."

Of that total, $233 million comes from cuts to teaching assistants in second- and third-grade classrooms. TAs in kindergarten and first grade would remain funded.

"That's just the way it is," Tillman said. 

"Bless their hearts, I love them," he added, but "the research is cloudy" on whether TAs are effective in second and third grade.

Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, pointed out that the two-year budget passed last year included the TA cuts.

Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union, said counties or school districts could use their own funding to cover second- and third-grade TAs if they choose.

"(Districts) have $678 million cash on hand" statewide, Tucker said. "That's more cash on hand than the state has."

The plan uses $56 million in excess lottery revenue for teacher pay, replacing $56 million in state funding. 

Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake, asked whether budget writers have begun to consider lottery revenue as "recurring" funding. 

Tillman said they have. "We've got a fairly good track record of lottery proceeds," he said.

The proposal also ends state funding for driver education classes beginning in 2015, a $28 million cut.

The Department of Public Instruction would also see a $15 million cut, which is 30 percent of its state funding.

Tillman acknowledged that the deep cut could require shuttering whole sections of the agency, but said many local districts can now perform the consulting and support services for which they used to rely on DPI.

"As far as I can tell, they [DPI] don't teach a single child," he said. 

Other savings come from an adjustment to the projected number of K-12 students next year, revising downward earlier projections of student growth.

Overall, K-12 funding would be about $66 million more than last year. 

"The bottom line is, there's an increase in spending in K-12, a small increase," Tillman said. "We have added money."

State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson said the cuts would further harm schools already reeling from years of underfunding. 

"These cuts will eliminate essential services for teachers and schools and leave teachers with more duties and less support," she said. "North Carolina deserves better than this."


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  • juliomercado May 30, 2014

    The political reality is the NC Senate has inadvertently (or not) set in motion actions which WILL decide if Tom Tillis unseats Kay Hagen for US Senate in November. Hagen has an anchor tied around her neck called Obamacare. If Tillis doesn't vehemently oppose this vindictive and heartless policy, I would wager 100's of millions MORE poor into the NC Race. This is a golden opportunity for either Tillis or Hagen. Depends on who has the courage to seize the moment.

  • SaveEnergyMan May 30, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Again, this is not about being against education, but rather as political retribution for them voting Democrat, just as voter ID as targets black folks (who also vote Dem) more.

    I think schools should give up TA's when the GA members give up their staffers. After all, why are they needed? It's the elected member that votes. They should have to research everything and interact with the lobbyists themselves.

    What's good for the goose is good for the gander in this time of austerity.

  • Eric Hammond May 29, 2014
    user avatar

    what does the GOP have against education? oh... yeah... that's right, educated people aren't as easily swayed by propaganda... never mind!
    actually this GOP controlled legislature is the DIRECT RESULT of the education cuts of the Reagan years!

  • Pensive01 May 29, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Somehow I am getting the feeling that answers may not be forthcoming to the questions you posed.

  • thinkfirsttypelater May 29, 2014

    View quoted thread

    And once the privatize the prisons, they'll be making money on both ends...

  • Kenny Dunn May 29, 2014
    user avatar

    They are defending that which cannot be defended.

  • hppyhourhero May 29, 2014

    stymieindurham: "I DO NOT remember hearing any of this constant complaining when Hunt, Easley, or Bev were in office"...OK, let's start with 2 easy questions:
    Of the 3 mentioned above, who proposed cutting tenure?
    Of three mentioned above who proposed doing away with higher pay for teachers who obatin a Masters Degree....Please answer those questions, honestly and the answers cannot be questions back to me.

  • tracmister May 29, 2014

    You mean they defend the education cuts they had already made. Charter Schools are raking in the bucks. It's all part of the plan to strip democracy away one brick at a time.

  • Forthe Newssite May 29, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Oh it's not ONLY education they are dismantling. If they had their way they'd do it to the entire state in every aspect. This GA is the worst in history-at least MY history of being in NC; which is most likely longer than some here have been alive. I am beyond flabbergasted at some of the things they have done in just one week!

  • miseem May 29, 2014

    People need to stop comparing NC to Mississippi. You are embarrassing and libeling the citizens of Mississippi by insinuating they are just as bad as NC. No one will stop us on our race to the bottom.