Reading the state budget is like hunting through tall grass looking for things that don’t quite belong – items that are or could have been their own separate bills and don’t directly deal with money, yet ended up as few paragraphs in a 427-page document.
The budget proposal the Senate passed last week, and which House members started formally reviewing Tuesday, is chock full of interesting nuggets that got mixed in with the money.
The provisions that would strip power from governors and attorneys general have been the most discussed so far. Here are a few more.
The Senate budget would eliminate the controversial innovative school district. Created in 2016, the district as originally planned, would have up to five schools in it by now. It has only one, Southside-Ashpole Elementary School in Robeson County.
The idea was to take low-performing public schools and give them to outside organizations to run. A wealthy charter school backer from Oregon, John Bryan, bragged about his work getting the state to create the special district.
Most local districts fought handing over their schools, and the innovative district never expanded.
Achievement for All Children was selected to run Southside-Ashpole Elementary. That didn’t go well, and the State Board of Education and Achievement for All Children ended their relationship, Policy Watch reported this year.
The budget says state Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt should come up with some new ideas and tell legislators about them on February. The Southside-Ashpole would go back to Robeson in the 2023-2024 school year. This provision is on page 45 of the budget.
Should athletes who play for UNC system schools be considered in-state students for tuition purposes? The state has been kicking this around for a while. The tuition break was around for a few years in the mid-2000s before it was dropped. In-state tuition for UNC schools’ athletes would save athletic booster clubs boatloads of money.
A 2019 bill that would have allowed it got stuck in a Senate committee.
This year’s Senate budget has restoring in-state tuition for athletes on page 72.
Another provision would give child care facilities a break with the state star-rating system if their lead teachers don’t have the education credentials that help facilities earn the highest ranking of five stars. A bill that would do this passed the Senate in April and is moving through the House. The budget provision starts on page 109. Child care facilities would be able to keep their five-star ratings while having fewer teachers with post-high school education for two years.
Lowering the education requirement for lead teachers is controversial, North Carolina Health News reported.
A bill that would require health services facilities – hospitals, rehab centers, or other places people seek care — tell patients if they’ll be treated by out-of-network providers landed in the Senate budget on page 155. This provision passed the Senate unanimously in May as a separate bill that is sitting in the House Rules Committee.
Members of the National Guard reserve would be given preference when applying for state government jobs, under a budget provision that starts on page 284.
State policy already gives hiring preference to war veterans.