House budget proposal: More of the same bad priorities

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The budget proposal from House Republicans is no better than the Senate version, merely doubling down on the same bad priorities that continue to harm North Carolina public schools under Republican rule.

Although lawmakers like to say they’re spending the most money ever on public education in North Carolina, when you take inflation and enrollment growth into account, state spending on classroom supplies is less than half of what it was before the Great Recession began.

In fact, North Carolina ranks 43rd in per-student spending and continues to fall further behind the national average. Currently, our state spends about $3,000 less per student than the national average.

Unfortunately, the House education budget proposal does very little to fix that.

  • The House budget document does not include funding for class size reduction, so specialty art, music, language teachers are once again at risk under the HB13 controversy that was supposedly resolved last month.
  • The House budget does nothing to restore the 7,000 teaching assistant jobs which have been cut since the recession started. Republicans hope parents simply forget that those TAs used to assist teachers in lower grade classrooms.
  • Textbook and technology funding only receives a non-recurring $10 million increase the first year, so there is still a huge gap compared with before the recession.
  • The House proposal does not discuss teacher pay raises at all, but if previous budgets are any indication, experienced teachers will likely be left out once again.  
  • The House proposal also increases the reliance on lottery money, which was supposed to increase overall education funding instead of replacing it.

But even as Republican lawmakers tell teachers and students they’re out of luck, they apparently have no problem giving huge tax cuts to big corporations and rich people.

“State lawmakers keep cutting taxes for big corporations and the wealthy while telling teachers and students they don’t have the money to properly fund public education,” said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC Action. “Our lawmakers need to get their priorities straight and fund education, not corporations. And if they can’t do that, we need lawmakers who will make better choices.”

Since 2013, 80 percent of North Carolina Republican tax cuts have gone to the top 20 percent of taxpayers -- and the House’s proposed budget plan would only double down on these misguided handouts for the rich.

“Prioritizing tax cuts for the rich over public education does a disservice to our children and our entire state,” said Brenner. “Billions of dollars in revenue that could fully fund our public schools have instead been steered toward tax cuts to big corporations and people who don’t need them. Republicans keep claiming tax cuts will lead to more revenue, but the tax cuts are not leading to enough funding for our classrooms to get resources to where they were before the recession.  They just hope parents, teachers, and voters simply forget about the resources we once had for our schools.”

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