McCrory claims NC education budget largest in history (Fact check)

McCrory ed summitGov. Pat McCrory unveiled his latest vision for public education this morning at the NC Chamber of Commerce’s Education Summit. The plan includes a $30 million “Education Innovation Fund” that would come from federal Race to the Top grant money and a call to reduce excessive testing.

McCrory also reiterated his belief that funding for North Carolina’s public education system was not cut in the budget he signed into law last week.

Beginning with an assertion that protestors and newspaper writers are wrong about the facts around the education budget, McCrory said that “at $7.8 billion, this is the largest K-12 budget in North Carolina’s history.”

Actually, that’s not at all an accurate representation of what the education budget looks like.

As I reported previously, North Carolina spent $7,714,429,569 on K-12 public education in the 2008 fiscal year budget — the last budget to be adopted prior to the onset of the Great Recession. But when you adjust those numbers for inflation, that amount would be $8,402,393,062 in today’s dollars.

At a total of $7,867,960,649, the 2014 fiscal year budget will spend $535 million less than the 2008 inflation-adjusted budget. And the 2014 budget fails to keep up with the needs of a growing student population. The Office of State Budget and Management estimates that $7,984,924,757 is actually needed to maintain current service levels of education.

So while the 2014 budget would spend more than the previous year’s budget in absolute dollars, the appropriation isn’t enough, even under the estimates of the Governor’s own budget office, to maintain services at FY2013 levels.

Gov. McCrory also repeated a claim he made as he signed his tax reform package into law that teachers making between $40,000 and $45,000 annually will actually get 1% of their earnings back, thanks to tax reform.

But according to tables that accompanied the tax reform bill, citizens don’t get a 1% tax break until they have a household income of $250,000.

McCrory also said that teachers are not able to get raises in this budget because of high Medicaid costs. He did not address the fact, however, that state revenue availability was reduced by $684 million over the biennium as the result of tax cut package he signed into law. 

When talking about the state of teacher pay, McCrory said that North Carolina ranked “in the 40’s” in 2010, just as we do now.

Again, however, this does not comport with the facts. North Carolina actually ranked 27th in teacher pay in 2005-06 and has dropped to 46th in the nation in less than 10 years.

Governor McCrory took no questions at the conclusion of his remarks.

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