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Easley Targets Education in Latest Budget Plan

Education could be a big winner if Gov. Mike Easley's budget is approved by the General Assembly.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Mike Easley's $20 billion budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year released Thursday increases state spending by more than $1 billion over the current budget.

The heart of the budget covers public education with $11.6 billlion going toward public schools, community colleges, and universities -- nearly an 8 percent increase over this year.

"In North Carolina we place a premium on hard work and it should pay off for our people," said Easley. "Making college more accessible to hard-working students, making high school more relevant and challenging, and making sure low income families can keep their hard-earned dollars for basic needs are North Carolina values."

As Easley mentioned in his State-of-the-State address, Easley wants to create an "EARN" scholarship program where low- and moderate-income students can get a college degree debt-free.

Under the proposed budget, teachers would be in line for an average 5 percent pay raise. The governor proposes a 2.5 percent pay hike for the rest of state workers.

The budget would increase state transportation maintenance funding for a total of $935 million. Easley wants to inject more than $10 million into the court system to pay for new prosecutors, judges and technology.

As far as taxes, the budget would eliminate or reduce state income tax for more than 1 million low-income residents. However, a sales tax hike that was supposed to expire this year would stay in place.


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