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This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

wordle-g6161. NC Senate unveils education budget that guts teacher assistants, rewards less experienced teachers
Senate proposes cutting more than 8,500* teacher assistant positions

Senate leaders unveiled portions of a 2015-17 budget proposal Monday that gives teachers an average four percent pay raise and lowers class sizes in the early grades— but much like last year’s initial Senate proposal, the budget would also substantially gut funding for teacher assistants by eliminating more than 8,500* TA jobs over the biennium.

The Senate plan also spends considerably less than the House proposal on teacher pay raises with the bulk of the new funding targeted toward early career teachers. The highest percentage salary increase would go to a teacher with four years of experience, while veteran teachers with 25 years’ experience and on would see no raises at all as their base salaries would be capped at $50,000. [Continue Reading…]

ff-616-2015b2.The Senate’s 504-page budget manifesto
Senate leaders didn’t just unveil a budget proposal this week, they released a 504-page ideological wish list that makes dramatic changes to the state Medicaid system, repeals important health care regulations, rewrites economic development policy, changes who oversees the licensing of teachers and prohibits Wake County from voting on a half-cent sales tax increase for transit improvements.

It creates new state departments, changes the way local sales tax revenues are distributed, ends a longstanding tax break for nonprofits, and closes a school for mentally ill children.

It ends state funding for the NC Biotechnology Center, the Human Relations Commission, the Office of Minority Health and the Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership.

And it eliminates more than 8,500 teacher assistant jobs in public schools while increasing funding for the state’s sketchy and likely unconstitutional school voucher scheme.[Continue Reading…]

Senator Tom Apodaca 3. The vindictiveness of the Senate’s bully budget
One of the most telling moments in the consideration of the Senate budget this week came toward the end of Wednesday’s floor debate when powerful Senate Rules Chair and Republican enforcer Tom Apodaca amended the bill to take $3 million away from the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law and give it to a health education center in his area.

Apodaca didn’t fully explain why he was taking money away from the law school or why he didn’t make the change in the weeks of secret meetings Senate leaders held to put the budget together. [Continue Reading…]

Supreme-court4. First Monday in October, last Monday in June:  What’s left at the U.S. Supreme Court?
Just as the first Monday in October marks the opening of the U.S. Supreme Court’s new term, the last days of June signal the announcement of opinions in the court’s most high-profile cases.

That’s true again this year. With just 12 days to go till term end, the high court still has 17 cases awaiting decision – most of those raising questions of significant public interest.

Why the late June rush?

In part it’s due to timing. Historically, thirty percent more cases argued during the term are decided in June than in any other preceding month, and most of those were argued in March or April.

There’s more to it though, say authors of a recent article in the Duke Law Journal.

The justices have legacy and reputational concerns. The more controversial the case, the more likely several of them will write dissenting and concurring opinions that are carefully crafted, given historical import and impact. [Continue Reading…]

so-college_story5. NC Senate and House differ on approach to funding higher education
The state’s higher education system saw its enrollment growth funded in the Senate budget proposal released this week, a cost of nearly $130 million over the next two years, but also saw another year of significant discretionary cuts handed to campuses.

After the 504-page budget spent a whirlwind day in committee meetings Tuesday, the Republican-led Senate is expected to vote on full budget Wednesday and Thursday.

If it passes, as is expected, it’ll move to the House, and then top House and Senate leaders will begin meeting behind closed doors to hash out the final budget.

The Senate budget took aim at a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill-based education policy center, the Hunt Institute, named for former Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt. The center hosts an annual bipartisan retreat on education policy and challenges to public education for state lawmakers, as well as similar gatherings for the nation’s governors. [Continue Reading…]

2 Comments


  1. Susan

    June 23, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Just an idea!
    Why not cut the extra and unnecessary staff such as secretaries in the Senate and House?
    Let the elected officials answer their own phones and clean their own restrooms.
    To make it even easier to visualize they could even drive a school bus in the morning, drop the bus load of kids off at school on their way to work since there will no longer be any bus drivers and be so proud of the money they saved NC!

  2. Leslie

    June 24, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    THIS IS WHY ALTHOUGH A REGISTERED DEMOCRAT WHO QUITE FREQUENTLY VOTED FOR REPUBLICANS. IF THIS IS WHAT Y’ALL THINK OF EDUCATORS ESPECIALLY THE EXPERIENCED ONES WHO ARE “ASKED” TO MENTOR NEW TEACHERS WITH NO REMUNERATION, SERVE AS HEAD OF NUMEROUS COMMITTEES AND THEN HAVE THEIR SALARY CAPPED AT $50,000 AND THEN TAKE AWAY PAID RETIREMENT PLANS – NEVER EVER WILL I VOTE REPUBLICAN AGAIN.

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