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Together NC is a coalition of scores of small and large nonprofits throughout the state. Here is their take on the budget “compromise” working its way through the General Assembly: 

“RALEIGH (July 24, 2013) — The budget compromise between the North Carolina House and Senate likely to be passed this week and signed by Governor McCrory is indeed a compromise. This budget compromises our valued public investments such as K-12 education, community colleges, universities, and the quality of life in our state.

The tax plan signed into law today exacts over a $600 million price tag to our state at the same time that the budget proposes to cut teachers and teaching assistants, increase class sizes, increase tuition at community colleges, reduce NC Pre-K slots, defund drug treatment courts and cut funding for affordable housing projects. These are only a few of the damaging cuts this budget enacts.

The path to prosperity and competitiveness for North Carolina takes a devastating blow by underinvesting in education at all levels and our state will now have a deeper hole to dig itself out of to get back on track.”

In case you missed them, check out this morning’s lead editorials in Raleigh’s News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer — both of which tell it like it is on the matter of our state leaders’ ongoing assault on public education.

In “A basic math lesson for N.C. lawmakers,” the Observer puts it like this:

“Here’s what the Senate and House budget plan, set for a vote this week, does to N.C. schools:

It cuts education spending by almost $500 million in the next two years, including a decrease in net spending for K-12 public schools.

It invites bigger and more chaotic classrooms by removing the cap on some classroom sizes and cutting funding for elementary school teacher assistants. Read More

EdbudgetReaders should anticipate a more in-depth look at the education portion of the budget this week from NC Policy Watch; if you’re tired of scouring Twitter for the details, then here’s a snapshot with some of the most notable points.

School vouchers: ‘Opportunity Scholarships’ to begin in year two of the budget, or for the 2014-15 academic year. $10 million set aside for $4,200 vouchers for students to use at private schools. Household income for those students cannot exceed 133% of the federal poverty level, at least for the first year.

Lawmakers will also decide this week on a separate bill that would give students with disabilities $3,000 per semester to use for private schooling.

Teacher tenure: teachers would become temporary employees with this budget. Instead of having ‘career status’, also known as tenure, teachers will have contracts that can be renewed based on performance measures.

Teacher pay: no raises for teachers, who have only seen a 1% pay increase in the past five years. Supplemental pay for teachers who have master’s degrees is gone, with the exception of those whose jobs require advanced degrees. A scheme for merit pay is included, with highly performing teachers getting bonuses in the second year.

Pink slips? Funding for teaching assistants was reduced by 21%. That cut will affect teachers, too, since many local districts also use that pot of money to fund their positions. And as we lose teachers, the cap on class sizes is lifted – so even more crowded classrooms to look forward to.

Pre-K: eligibility guidelines were not changed with this budget, and 2,500 slots were added. But since 5,000 slots are expiring this month, all this does is reduce the loss of pre-K slots by 2,500.

Charter schools: Language is included in the budget that calls for the State Board of Education to study virtual charter schools, including application requirements, enrollment growth and funding allocations.

The House budget proposal that included a half million dollars for PEFNC to develop charter schools in rural areas appears to have not moved forward.

Teaching fellows: The budget includes $12 million over the two year period for Teach for America, while the NC Teaching Fellows program is phased out.

Higher education: tuition will go up by 12.3 percent at UNC schools and community college students will also see increased fees.

Myron Pitts of the Fayetteville Observer has a worth-reading column in this morning’s paper in which he says the conservatives running the state may come to regret the extreme path they’ve followed this session.

“For sure, the wealthiest folks in the state will do quite well in the new scenario. With their top tax rate of 7.75 percent replaced with a regressive, flat tax, they stand to make thousands more per year in personal income. The corporate tax rate has been reduced, too, from 6.9 to 6 percent.

But should we be surprised by this shift of money up the ladder? The state’s budget director, Art Pope, is very rich with money he made off the very poor, through his discount retail chains, such as Roses and Maxway. Read More

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.