WRAL has summarized numerous elements in the new North Carolina budget, a compromise between the GOP-lead House and Senate. Here’s some of what they’re doing to education:
- Vouchers: “opportunity scholarships,” taken out of state tax dollars, for private school attendees, to the tune of $10 million a year. This will cause a drop of $11.8 million in public school funding per year because of people leaving the system. So, route $10 million to private schools instead of $11.8 million to public schools – great deal for the business-first, anti-social-services crowd!
- Eliminates public school teacher tenure - to do so will cost the state $23.6 million
- Increases community college per-course costs and tuition
- Increases UNC system tuition for out-of-state undergraduates by 12.3% at some schools, 6% at others
- Reduces teaching assistant funding by 21% next year and 19% the following year
- Reduces school bus replacement funding
- Establishes “volunteer school safety resource officers,” who will be ex-military or ex-law enforcement. They will carry weapons and can make arrests. How will parents feel about unpaid former GIs wielding guns and arresting students at their children’s schools?
- Thankfully, the cuts to pre-K have been dropped, and an extra 2,500 slots will be added
The legislature has passed these cuts/reduction of public school funding while passing a budget that costs the state $524 million each year because of tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations; reducing unemployment compensation to the point of being denied federal emergency unemployment compensation of $650 million;and rejecting the federal Medicaid expansion, putting 500,000 people off of health insurance and forfeiting $15 billion in federal funds, 65 million in savings because of fewer uninsured, and 25,000 new jobs by 2016. The budget includes $74 million in “business incentives” over the next two years, despite already cutting corporate taxes. According to Alexandra Sirota of the NC Budget and Tax Center, this budget will require $620 million in future cuts from public investments – a “starve the beast” model.
These cuts to public programs and the social safety net and many others have brought thousands of people of weekly Moral Monday protests at the NC General Assembly in Raleigh. The proposed voter ID bill, another policy being protested, will cost North Carolina $1 million per year.
Governor Pat McCrory, who promised a revenue-neutral budget in his campaign and his State of the State address, is expected to sign the bill.