Berger balks on budget cuts: What’s in the fine print?

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Despite the lofty promises in his budget rollout, Sen. Berger and cronies fail to list the cuts contained in the fine print

RALEIGH -- It happens every year like clockwork. Republican leaders cherry-pick the best parts of their budget to give to reporters, but refuse to go into detail about the budget cuts that allow them to pay for those lofty promises. Then they wait a full news cycle before releasing the full budget, forcing reporters to publish largely favorable reactions to an incomplete budget.

The next day, the full budget is released -- inevitably showing that Berger’s budget promises aren't all they're cracked up to be. But by then the damage has been done, and Republican leaders have gotten the positive headlines they wanted. And year after year, this dishonest bait-and-switch tactic is somehow considered a responsible way to legislate.

Will the same thing happen this year? The choice is yours!

Sen. Berger promised a paltry 3.5% average raise for educators over two years, which hardly covers the cost of inflation. He also promised to give each teacher $300 for classroom supplies, which still doesn’t come close to covering what many educators spend on supplies out of their own pockets each year.

And how is Berger paying for all this? As usual, he wouldn’t say. But recall that in 2015, Republican leaders claimed the Senate budget contained no substantial cuts. But because the budget announcement only included favorable highlights, reporters didn’t learn until later that the Senate budget would have fired 8,500 teacher assistants across the state -- the largest layoff in state history.

“The tens of thousands of educators who marched in Raleigh on May 1 had very clear demands, but this budget fails to meet any of them,” said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC Action. “It’s clear that Republican leaders have no interest in listening to the needs of educators, but would rather mislead them with the dishonest tactics that have become routine in GOP budget rollouts. Given the Senate’s track record of hiding their cuts to public education, Sen. Berger’s claims about the budget should be treated with extreme skepticism until the full budget is released.”

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