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In a column entitled “Tarheels down,” publisher H. Brandt Ayers of Alabama’s Anniston Star newspaper (a former N. C. newspaper reporter) pulls no punches in slamming North Carolina’s 2013 right-wing public policy revolution:

“LAKE TOXAWAY, N. C. — After decades of touting North Carolina as a model of state governance, I am sad to say that it has caught up with Alabama in a race to the bottom.

‘North Carolina was once considered a beacon of farsightedness in the South … In a few short months Republicans have begun to dismantle a reputation that took years to build,’ a New York Times editorial concluded.

A Republican ‘super majority,’ like Alabama’s, has drastically cut the number of people allowed to vote, cut the education budget by one-half billion dollars, installed the failed school-voucher policy, threatened academic freedom and said, in effect, science is illegitimate.

Not since the Taliban blew up the centuries-old monuments to Afghan civilization has there been such an undoing of structures that made a state proud and effective….”

Click here to read the rest of Ayers’ column.

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.

 

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. Read More

Legislators penned a state budget that puts North Carolina on a path to mediocrity. It finances tax cuts for millionaires and corporations with deep service cuts to programs that North Carolinians need and value. As such, this budget fails to catch up—let alone keep up—with the needs of children, working families, and communities.

Building a strong economy means building a workforce that is ready to tackle 21st Century challenges and able to meet the needs of competitive businesses—which requires adequate investments in education. Yet, the two-year budget falls short by nearly a half a billion dollars over what’s needed to meet the needs of a growing student population. This gap will result in fewer teachers and assistants in more crowded classrooms, stagnate wages for low-paid teachers, and ever-increasing tuition rates for students and their families.

Failing to adequately invest in the engines of a strong and enduring economy will cause long term pain in our state.

Alexandra Sirota is the Director of the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center

Earlier today, the North Carolina Senate gave final approval to the 2013-15 fiscal year budget. The House chamber is poised to follow suit later this afternoon. Throughout the budget debate, legislators have spent a considerable amount of time providing an overview of the final budget but continue to skip over how they pay for the proposal. This practice is not uncommon. How the state raises the billions of dollars that fuel the state budget gets relatively little scrutiny compared to the rest of the budget during the budget process.

But because the final budget includes tax cuts that will primarily benefit the rich while significantly reducing resources to pay for vital services, examining how the state will make up for $683.8 million in tax cuts over the next two years and $2.8 billion over the next five years it is more important than ever.*

Here’s what you need to know regarding how legislative leaders chose to pay for the final budget: Read More