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Check out today’s edition of the Fitzsimon File in which Chris debunks once and for all the absurd notion being advanced by conservative politicians and propagandists that because the state will spend more next year on education in absolute dollars that we have not cut education.

“The 2013-2014 base budget developed by OSBM under the direction of State Budget Director Art Pope was 11.731 billion for education at all levels, public schools, community college and the university system.

The total education budget approved by the General Assembly and signed by Governor McCrory was 11.472 billion—a $259 million cut. The budget for the second year cuts another 221.9 million from the base budget, for a total of $480 million slashed from what’s needed to keep education spending at the same level.

If you don’t adjust for inflation and enrollment, etc. you could argue that more is spent in real dollars, but that means less services, less spending per pupil, fewer teachers, fewer teacher assistants, larger classes—in other words BUDGET CUTS.

Schools have fewer resources with which to educate students thanks to the budget passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor McCrory. That is simply beyond dispute.”

Read the entire piece by clicking here.

 

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NC House and Senate members spending their first full week back in their home districts will undoubtedly be talking up tax reform and efforts to spur economic growth over the seven-month session. But even as lawmakers tout their business-friendly agenda, Ran Coble with the NC Center for Public Policy Research says they will need to own up to another round of cuts made to public education:

“From the public schools you are taking almost 4,000 teaching assistants. There’s no raise for teachers,” explained Coble. “You’ve got cuts to the Department of Public Instruction, cuts to things that get people into the teaching profession, which I worry about long-term.”

Coble, who appeared on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon last weekend, notes the latest budget also cuts the UNC-system by another $66 million. While the community college system fared better, its students will see a $2.50 per credit hour increase in tuition.

To hear Coble’s take on the winners and losers of this legislative session, visit the Radio Interview section of the NC Policy Watch website where you can listen online or download a podcast of the extended interview.

For a closer look at the numbers from this legislative session, be sure to read Monday’s Fitzsimon File.

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On Friday of last week, the good people at Together NC delivered an open letter to Gov. McCrory, House Speaker Tillis, Senate President Pro Tem Berger and the other members of the General Assembly regarding the ongoing behind-closed-doors negotiations over the state budget. Here’s the opening:

“We are more than 100 North Carolina groups and thousands more North Carolinians who want to make North Carolina a better place. We aren’t a national organization and we don’t have significant resources to secure your vote; but what we do have is a commitment to our state and a belief that North Carolina can be the best place in the country to live, work and do business if we invest in our schools and communities.

As you negotiate a tax and budget plan this weekend, we urge you to reject the current proposals – they are bad for North Carolinians and bad for our economy. North Carolinians are proud of our state’s long tradition of coming together to invest in families, communities, and our state’s future. That’s why the people of North Carolina have asked for your leadership in identifying solutions to the state’s economic challenges that don’t undermine our neighborhood schools, world-class universities, and safe communities.

Cutting taxes for the rich and profitable corporations is not a job creation strategy and it won’t address our economic challenges. Instead we should be focusing on investments to support emerging research and technology, strengthen new industries, and train and educate our children and workforce for the jobs of the future….

Read the entire letter by clicking here.

NC Budget and Tax Center

On the Senate Tax Plan receiving tentative approval:

The Senate tax plan will give tax cuts to the wealthy and profitable corporations while everyone else pays the price.

The loss of revenue for public education, the health and well-being of seniors and children, and our communities will harm everyday North Carolinians and the economy’s long-term health. Some North Carolinians will even experience income tax increases, including some seniors and families.

North Carolinians want a tax plan that won’t risk the things that have made our state great, especially not on a strategy that has been a proven failure in other states.

On the House Budget passing third reading:

Unfortunately the House is following path similar as the Senate by writing a budget that prioritizes tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthiest instead of adequately funding our vital public investments. Our children, seniors and everyday families will suffer under this approach, and it will hurt our economy. We need an educated and trained workforce for a 21st century economy, and underfunding our public school system, community colleges, and universities takes us in the wrong direction.

 

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The tax plan that North Carolina’s Senate leaders unveiled yesterday should not be mistaken for tax reform. It is, in reality, a plan to gut North Carolina’s schools, public colleges and universities, infrastructure, and other key state investments that promote long-run prosperity.

The plan’s massive tax cuts, which would mainly benefit large corporations and the wealthy, would cost the state $1.3 billion each year once fully in place, roughly the entire annual budget for North Carolina’s community colleges. Blowing such a massive hole in the budget would jeopardize the quality public schools, nationally-recognized public university system, and other assets that have attracted businesses — and jobs — to the state in industries like financial services and scientific research.

Other states that considered similar proposals this year backed off in part because of the reality that huge tax cuts for the wealthy must be paid for with untenable reductions in funding for schools and other state services, tax hikes on others, or both. The North Carolina Senate’s plan ignores that reality and opts instead for wishful thinking.

Claims that the Senate plan will cause North Carolina’s economy to boom are simply empty promises. Any boost from cutting income taxes will be canceled out by the spending cuts or tax increases the state will be forced to adopt to balance its budget.

Elimination of the corporate income tax is largely a giveaway to multistate corporations that — rather than creating jobs — will likely stick the savings in an out-of-state bank or use it to pay higher dividends to stockholders, most of whom don’t live in North Carolina.

The plan’s personal income tax cuts won’t likely create jobs, either. Most small businesses would get a tax cut so small that it wouldn’t even cover one worker’s salary. Plus, small businesses rely on state education, roads, and other services that would degrade year after year under this plan.

To ensure a bright economic future, North Carolina should focus on strengthening the K-12 and higher education systems that have set the state apart in the past but faced deep cuts in recent years due to the recession. Blowing a huge hole in the state budget would make that crucial task much harder. North Carolina has nothing to gain and much to lose from the Senate’s misguided plan.