Protests staged as state House debates budget

Posted May 3, 2011 4:01 a.m. EDT
Updated May 3, 2011 10:05 p.m. EDT

— Thousands of people fighting cuts to education spending in North Carolina's budget gathered on Tuesday in downtown Raleigh in hopes their voices would be heard in the General Assembly.

Gov. Beverly Perdue spoke to more than 2,000 people attending a demonstration organized by the state's main teacher's group, the North Carolina Association of Educators, as the state House was debating its spending plan for the year starting in July.

"Every work force in North Carolina wants an educated worker. Purely and simply, companies will stop coming here if mess like this goes on," Perdue said. 

The Democratic governor urged protesters to call legislators, who are primarily Republican after last year's elections.

"The budget cuts that they're proposing right now would devastate public education," NCAE Vice President Rodney Ellis said during the rally. 

Ellis said he fears layoffs could affect 20,000 positions statewide.

"I think a lot of misinformation has been put out there. I think the organization that hosted the rally today, NCAE, maybe even contributed somewhat to that misinformation," State Rep. Bryan Holloway, R-Stokes, said. 

Holloway said the Republican budget fully funds teacher allotments, and that it's up to individual superintendents to decide how their state appropriations will be used. 

Teacher Marcia Timmell fears for students. 

"Our kids are seriously at risk. They've had cuts for the last couple of years and we're already cut to the bone," she said.