The good people at the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children  just released this statement on the Berger budget plan:
Senate budget short-changes NC’s children
Budget would cut funding for early education and K-12 schools and remove cap on class size
RALEIGH – Late Sunday night, Senate budget writers released their 2014-15 budget proposal, which includes deep cuts to education, early care and infant mortality prevention.
“This budget continues the ongoing deterioration of our public school system,” stated Rob Thompson, Executive Director of the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children. “If the Senate is serious about improving student outcomes, then underfunding schools and removing the cap on class size are the last things it should do.”
In addition to deep cuts in K-12 education, the Senate budget appears to cut the Smart Start early education program by 42%. 
“Smart Start is the reason that we have safe, high-quality child care in North Carolina. The decision to cut the Smart Start budget nearly in half will result in many counties losing their local partnership and the benefits that come with it,” stated Thompson.
The Senate budget also transfers 5,000 NC Pre-K slots to the Child Care Subsidy program, which will result in fewer children receiving a high-quality pre-kindergarten education. While the child care subsidy program is very important, it doesn’t provide the same level of quality and rigor as NC Pre-K. NC Pre-K classrooms are required to have a low student-to-staff ratio with a maximum class size of 18, and NC Pre-K teachers must meet strict education and licensing requirements and use preapproved curricula.
Lastly, the Senate budget fails to fund key pieces of our infant mortality prevention infrastructure, including the ECU High-Risk Maternity Clinic and the NC Healthy Start Foundation.
“These are low-cost, high-return investments,” stated Thompson. “Preventing just one very preterm birth saves the state approximately $300,000 in direct hospital costs.  It’s pennywise and pound-foolish not to fund these programs.” The Senate budget bars Smart Start from administering child care subsidies, which currently accounts for 42% ($62.5M) of its overall budget.  Estimate from the ECU High-Risk Maternity Clinic.
Covenant with North Carolina’s Children