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NC Budget and Tax Center

News that revenue is up in North Carolina doesn’t mean that we have what is needed to meet our state’s growing needs. In fact, total state revenue for the second quarter of fiscal year 2016 was below the level of revenue raised for the same period prior to the end of the Great Recession, fiscal year 2008, when adjusted for inflation.

By contrast, a majority of states experienced state tax receipts (adjusted for inflation) that exceeded their respective peak levels before the end of the recession in the third quarter of 2015, based on BTC’s analysis of most recent state tax collections data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.* North Carolina ranked 34th worst among states, with tax revenue below its peak quarter prior to the end of the recession. The recent revenue outlook report from the General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division highlights that we still have not reached this peak revenue level.

News from state officials that as of December 2015 revenue was up over the year still does not signal that North Carolina is collecting revenue in line with our state’s growing needs.

State leaders’ insatiable appetite for tax cuts largely explains why state tax revenue for North Carolina has yet to return to its peak pre-recession level, despite an improving national economy. The huge, costly tax cuts passed since 2013 greatly reduced annual revenue that otherwise would have been raised under the old tax system. Once all tax changes are fully implemented, annual revenue loss will total more than $2 billion dollars.

The massive revenue loss from tax cuts challenges our ability to make investments in the foundation that help move our state forward. State leaders claim that providing all teachers a meaningful raise is unrealistic. State funding per student for public schools remains below its pre-recession spending level when adjusted for inflation. State funding for our public universities is 16 percent below pre-recession spending while tuition and mandatory fees increased by nearly 43 percent during this period. Tuition at community colleges has increased by 81 percent since 2009. More than 6,400 fewer state-funded slots are available for NC Pre-K than in 2009 despite more than 7,200 children being on NC Pre-K wait lists last year. State support to help promote economic development in rural and distressed communities across the state has been cut drastically in recent years. Inadequate state support to help unemployed and underemployed North Carolinians retool and retrain in order to secure better paying jobs to support their families persists. These are examples of foregone opportunities to invest in our people and our future. Read More

News

virt-chartLast month, we reported on the troubling withdrawal rates reported in North Carolina’s pilot program for virtual charter schools, including the news that these online programs, led by for-profit companies, are not required to return their public funding despite dropouts.

Coupled with longtime reports of poor academics in virtual charters across the country, public education advocates have decried the use of public funding to support the schools.

Now comes a report last week in The Spokesman-Review about the very low graduation rate—about 20 percent—out of public-authorized virtual charters in the state of Idaho.

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News
Vanderbilt University education policy professor Gary Henry

Vanderbilt University education policy professor Gary Henry

North Carolina lawmakers may be likely to pursue legislation this year to install a pilot program for an achievement school district among the state’s lowest-performing schools.

But on Thursday, one of the nation’s leading researchers on the controversial reform method—which could turn over management of troubled schools to for-profit, charter operators—delivered data to a handful of lawmakers and a number of education policy advocates that delineated its somewhat middling results in the last three years in Tennessee.

 

As Gary Henry, a professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University, told Policy Watch this week, the achievement school districts showed “little to no effect” on student performance in low-performing schools in Tennessee.

“So the ambitious goal of getting all the schools into the top 25 percent has not been attained,” said Henry.

Henry’s presentation came one day after the first meeting of the N.C. House’s Select Committee on Achievement School Districts, a Republican-steered committee that presented draft legislation that would install a similar system in at least five low-performing elementary schools in North Carolina as soon as the 2017-2018 academic year. However, Henry had not been asked to address that committee as of Tuesday.

While multiple members of that committee were in attendance Thursday, the select committee’s chairman and leading proponent in the legislature, Mecklenburg County Republican Rob Bryan, did not attend. His assistant did attend, and said Bryan was busy in another committee meeting.

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News
N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson

It’s a long, long way from action on the N.C. General Assembly floor, but N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson today called for a 10 percent raise for all teachers in North Carolina.

“We need to get at the core reasons why teachers leave the classroom or go to another state,” said Atkinson.

It’s an important year for teacher raises, as many public education advocates point out recent pay increases passed on by GOP leadership in the legislature have brought the average teacher pay in North Carolina to just 42nd in the nation, with average pay of more than $47,000.

The national average exceeds $57,000, according to the National Education Association. 

And, with 2016 being an election year, some leaders in the legislature have publicly stated their intentions for some sort of raises this year.

On Wednesday, Atkinson, addressing the House Select Committee on Education Strategy and Practices, called for a “wedding cake” approach to teacher pay.

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News

HEART-NCAE-Logo-14-3The N.C. Association of Educators, one of the leading teacher advocacy groups in the state, is hitting back against the state’s latest attempt to revoke the group’s ability to deduct dues from members’ payroll checks.

NCAE President Rodney Ellis, a frequent critic of the N.C. General Assembly’s education policies, accused the Office of the State Controller of acting in a partisan manner when the office demanded the group provide membership information or risk losing their clearance for payroll deductions, WRAL reported.

Today, Ellis and company fought back.

From Ellis’ statement:

“NCAE has always been willing to work with the State Auditor to provide appropriate membership information while maintaining the constitutional rights and interests of our members and Association. Singling out NCAE for a separate verification process is retaliatory and politically motivated by some in the General Assembly to intimidate teachers and other educators from advocating for students and public schools. Instead of focusing on this issue, lawmakers should be tackling real issues like respecting educators, paying them professional salaries, and making sure classrooms have the resources to help our students be successful.”

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