Right wing tries desperately to spin/deny education cuts

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a high-powered university economist to understand that North Carolina has been a destructive pattern of underfunding public education for some time now.  Just walk into any public school in the state and ask the teachers and administrators and let them tell you about their falling salaries, growing classes and inadequate facilities. 

This is not a partisan attack — leaders from both major political parties have participated in the process. As NC Policy Watch reporter Lindsay Wagner reported last week:

“Let’s examine the numbers. In the 2008 fiscal year budget, North Carolina spent $7,714,429,569 on K-12 public education. But when you adjust those numbers for inflation, that amount would have been $8,402,393,062 in today’s dollars.

The 2014 fiscal year budget will spend $500 million less than the 2008 inflation-adjusted budget, in the amount of 7,867,960,649. And the 2014 budget fails to keep up with the needs of a growing student population. The Office of State Budget and Management estimates that $7,984,924,757 is actually needed to maintain current service levels of education.

So while the 2014 budget would spend more than the previous year’s budget, the appropriation isn’t enough to keep up basic services.”

Put simply, North Carolina’s education appropriations — which were inadequate five years ago — have fallen still further since that time. A big part of that fall was the result of the Great Recession, which caused a collapse in state revenues in 2009-10. In more recent years, however, the decline/stagnation has been the result of state leaders cutting taxes and refusing to make up the ground that was lost as a result of the economic downturn.

And that’s one big reason so many people are so angry now. It’s one thing to hold things together with duct tape and bailing wire when the economy is in a freefall, but to perpetuate the process when state revenues have stabilized and rebounded (i.e. what state lawmakers have been doing for the last three years) is unconscionable.

And about the only thing that’s worse than imposing additional cuts at such a time is hiding behind a dishonest P.R. smokescreen (as conservative politicians and propaganda groups have been doing in recent days) in which you allege that overall funding for education has “increased” even though the actual appropriations are not even keeping up with inflation.     

Fortunately, as we noted in this space earlier this morning, this is a bit of fast-talking spin that not even conservative true believers are buying. The only real question is how long the far right pols and think tanks will keep trying flog this bill of goods before they own up to what they have done and at least attempt to defend it with some degree of honesty. 

 

 

11 Comments

  1. Doug

    July 29, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Of course you omit the fact that they are actually INcreasing over last budget of approximately $400,000,000. I guess liberal/progressive math means 1+1 equals a negative number.

  2. Rob Schofield

    July 29, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Basic math lesson time:

    Just because one spends more dollars for food or rent or utilities in 2013 than 2012 does not mean one has effectively “increased” one’s spending. Among other things, there’s a little phenomenon called inflation. Thus if I spend more dollars but receive less, say, natural gas because the price has risen, it would be absurd to say that I have increased by commitment to energy purchases. I will still be be colder and forced to make do with less.

    The same obviously holds true here.

    The new state budget spends less than what the state budget office (headed by Art Pope) says is needed in order to maintain current services. North Carolina’s state appropriations commitment to public schools will therefore fall — a fact made even worse by the fact that other states with which we compete are increasing their commitment in inflation-adjusted dollars.

    To argue that this is not a cut in our commitment to education is both crudely simplistic and just plain silly.

  3. NC Teacher

    July 29, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    All I know is that there are teachers in this state whose own children are on medicaid insurance and whose husbands are uninsured because they don’t make enough to afford family health insurance. Others are on food stamps, and many are fleeing NC for teaching jobs in other states because they pay more. I also know that NC has stopped paying the incentive for Master’s degrees and National Board Certified Teachers even though these programs are rigorous and do make teachers better at their craft (mine did). Now…whether you use liberal or conservative math, SOMETHING is WRONG in this state!!!

  4. Bendal

    July 29, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    So Doug, does it mean that I’m using more gas because my budget for gasoline is greater this year than last year? Because that’s the kind of logic you’re trying to use in your comment to excuse the legislature not compensating for inflation or student increases in this year’s budget.

  5. ML

    July 29, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Doug get a clue and please read the article.

    “So while the 2014 budget would spend more than the previous year’s budget, the appropriation isn’t enough to keep up basic services.”

  6. Corey Ellision

    July 29, 2013 at 10:02 pm

  7. Doug

    July 29, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    Rob, I know all about inflation and such, Obama has taught us that by experience. But your analysis and just saying cuts is intellectually dishonest and borders on lying. What the educrat complex needs to come to grip with is what all out in the real world have to deal with…that they are not going to get every dollar they wish they could get and thus have to become competitive, leaner, and do their job better to possibly justify more money. The days of stacking the educrat bureaucracy with highly paid people to push the social causes and pet programs is over.

  8. Joe Schmoe

    July 30, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Doug, you obviously have a blind dislike for the Democratic party and probably Obama in particular. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, you should be disgusted by what is going on in our state (that’s assuming that you are a North Carolinian). Do you think huge tax cuts for millionaires and corporations at the cost of a poor public education system is a good trade-off? You said “push the social causes and pet programs.” Do you think public education is a social cause or pet program? That is what we are talking about here. Would you be happy if you did not get a raise in 5 years at your place of employment (that is assuming that you are employed? Can you fault educators for feeling this way. Do you think that public school teachers are highly paid? Do you know any public educators, because the ones I know are competitive, lean, and do the best that they can because they know what’s at stake. A child’s future. What is an educrat anyway? I don’t get it. Also, did you read the whole article? Your responses make me think that you didn’t.

  9. Alex

    July 30, 2013 at 9:04 am

    There is a major flaw in Rob’s thinking which is assuming that state revenues will always increase to match the inflation increased expenses. To think that we simply increase last year’s budget by a certain factor each year leads us to the same mess we’re having on the federal level. We have to look at programs that are ineffective, streamline or eliminate agencies that are not producing good results, and look at privatizing jobs when possible. Rob’s simplistic approach will simply grow government to a level where eventually we simply can’t afford it. If you want an example, simply look at Detroit.

  10. RJ

    July 30, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Joe Schmoe: Doug and his ilk indeed think that public education is a social cause and pet program. They think that public schools are like Mao’s re-education centers where impressionable children are indoctrinated in socialism. They really believe that, and there’s no point in arguing with them.

  11. Doug Gibson

    July 30, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Every year Education Week looks at state school system management factors and educational outcomes, and for the several years out of the past decade it has shown that North Carolina has the best outcomes for any state that spends as little as it does. Alex would do us all a great service by pointing out a more effective and efficient educational system in the United States.

    He does have a point, however: why on earth should our schools expect more money every year just because there happen to be a few thousand more students to educate? After all, in the real world, when a business does more work for a client or provides more products to a customer, it never expects to get paid more for having done so.