Business leaders ask court to ensure Leandro Plan is fully funded
Dozens of prominent business and civic leaders from across North Carolina are asking the state Supreme Court to ensure the full $1.75 billion cost of the so-called Leandro Plan is funded through this fiscal year.Posted — Updated
General Assembly leaders and the former state Controller Linda Combs have challenged that method of transfer, saying it bypasses the General Assembly’s budget authority.
The brief filed Wednesday was on behalf of 55 influential business and civic leaders from across the state. Among them: Erskine Bowles, the University of North Carolina president emeritus who served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton; Jim Fain the former banking executive who served as the state’s secretary of commerce under Gov. Mike Easley; Anthony Foxx, the former Charlotte mayor who was U.S. transportation secretary under President Barack Obama; SAS Institute founder Jim Goodnight and his wife Ann Goodnight; James H. Maynard, founder of Golden Corral Corp.; former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl; former Raleigh Mayor Smedes York; former Wake County Superintendent Bill McNeal; and former Raleigh Mayor Smedes York.
Jim Goodmon, the chairman and chief executive of Capitol Broadcasting Co., was also among the executives. Capitol Broadcasting Co. is the parent of WRAL-TV.
The filing is in support of the low-wealth school boards and families who sued the state to obtain an adequate education in 1994. The state itself has now agreed to the Leandro Plan with the plaintiffs, but General Assembly leaders, who have intervened in the case, have refused to fund a court-ordered plan. That dispute is now before the Supreme Court, which is scheduled to hold a hearing the week before Labor Day.
The $785 million in funds left to be appropriated toward the plan would increase funding for special education students and other disadvantaged students, plus dozens of other things.
“Our students need these improvements so that they can thrive and compete in a modern society and economy that demands more specialized skills,” the leaders say in their filings. “As a state, we need our students to realize these benefits so that we can collectively achieve the economic success that comes from adequate education.”
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