If you thought last year’s rhetoric over education spending was heated – things just got hotter. Gov. Perdue issued a statement Tuesday afternoon proposing the state restore three-quarters of a cent of the sales tax in the next budget to prevent further cuts to public education.
Here’s part of the Governor’s statement:
“Education has always been part of the fabric of who we are as a people in North Carolina and it’s the key to our future. We must stop the deep and unnecessary cuts that are going on in North Carolina’s schools. That’s why I’m for temporarily restoring three-quarters of the one-cent sales tax that the Republican-controlled General Assembly eliminated and for dedicating those funds to North Carolina schools.
I have cut spending to eliminate waste and make government more efficient. But we cannot allow the legislature’s extreme education cuts to continue. The North Carolina Association of School Administrators pointed out recently that North Carolina has fallen to 49th in the nation in per-pupil funding. The legislature’s budget has hurt education at all levels – from pre-k all the way through higher education – and has led to higher class sizes and the loss of thousands of teacher and teaching assistant positions. And their budget forces even more teacher layoffs next year — we must act to prevent these additional cuts.”
The Governor’s call to reinstate a fraction of the state sales tax is likely to meet with stiff opposition from House and Senate leadership, which rejected a similar proposal last year.
But Perdue will have support in this legislative battle to raise an estimated $863 million  in additional state revenues next year.
Rep. Bill Faison  proposed a 3/4 cent sales tax hike last fall and has continued to push the House Speaker to consider the idea.
And the North Carolina Association of Educators, that was recently targeted by the Republican-led General Assembly in an overnight veto override, has also vowed to continue speaking out against deep budget cuts that have hurt public education.
NCAE President Sheri Strickland appeared on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon  over the weekend and said the legislature’s “vindictive attack” on their dues check-off would not silence their opposition to cuts that have hurt the public schools.
You can hear a portion of Strickland’s remarks below. You can read Governor Perdue’s full statement here .