The Republican-crafted $20.6 billion state budget is eliciting strong reactions from across the North Carolina political spectrum. Much of it focuses on the education funding changes. One person yet to respond: Gov. Pat McCrory. But in the meantime, check out a roundup of statements below.
--Senate Democratic Leader Martin Nesbitt: “With this budget and last week’s tax bill, we can clearly see the Republican agenda: hoarding power in Raleigh and cutting vital services to the middle class in order to pay for massive handouts to the wealthiest 1% and out-of-state corporations. This is ‘big-government’ conservatism that prioritizes power over people and special interests and the super-wealthy over middle class families."
--House Democratic Leader Larry D. Hall: “This budget proves that for the Republicans, the most extreme view always wins. The Republicans are on a power-craze, attacking communities to grow government in Raleigh. They’re making it harder for students to afford higher education and forcing thousands of public school teachers out of the classroom. And they’re hurting small businesses and rural areas’ ability to create jobs – all so they can afford massive handouts to the wealthiest 1% and corporations. The Republicans are determined to impose their extreme ideological agenda on North Carolina – at the expense of middle class and working families”
--Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger: “Together, members of the House and Senate have carefully crafted a plan that smartly invests in key priorities like education and public safety while fulfilling our shared commitment to fiscal responsibility and accountability in state government."
--House Speaker Thom Tillis: "Once again, Republicans in the General Assembly have produced a state budget that reduces taxes and right-sizes state government. This budget is another crucial step in putting North Carolina’s fiscal house in order.”
--Darrell Allison, Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina: "The Opportunity Scholarship Act and Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grants represent a growing momentum in our state to ensure that every child receives the education best suited to their needs, which we know will help increase the quality of education they receive. This week marks an important milestone for school choice in North Carolina as the state budget compromise, which includes the Opportunity Scholarship Act, returns to the House and Senate for a final vote and the children with disabilities measure awaits agreement in the House.”
--Dallas Woodhouse, state director Americans for Prosperity: “This budget allocation for opportunity scholarship is a giant step for giving North Carolina families true educational freedom. Other states, such as Indiana, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, have made real advances in school choice in the past two years, and it’s good to see that North Carolina is catching up.”
--Rodney Ellis, N.C. Association of Educators: "I am writing today to inform you that support of the current budget agreement will mean that this General Assembly has chosen to abandon our public school system and to further place a target on the back of the hard working men and women that are entrusted with the care and education of our children.
The elimination of class size caps, the firing of thousands of teacher assistants, investment in a private school voucher scheme that will only enrich those who seek to profit off of public schools, and the devaluing of education as a career will position our state as a model in what not to do in education."
--Alexandra Forter Sirota, director N.C. Budget and Tax Center: "There is much ground to be regained since the deep and enduring cuts following the recession. Yet, three weeks into the new fiscal year, legislative leadership delivered a final budget that shorts investments in the foundations of a strong and sustainable economy—our schools, public health systems, courts, and communities. As such, this budget fails to catch up—let alone keep up—with the needs of a growing North Carolina population across major service areas.
"Lawmakers chose to drain available revenues by $524 million over the next two years through an ill-advised series of tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations. This revenue loss isn’t just a number on a piece of paper—it means fewer teachers in more crowded classrooms, higher tuition rates and elevated debt load for families, scarcer economic development opportunities for distressed communities, and longer waiting lists for senior services."
--Yevonne Brannon, chairwoman Public Schools First NC: “This assault on North Carolina’s long-standing tradition of excellence in public education is no way to make history or lead our state forward. The de-funding of public education and privatization of our public schools is in violation of our state constitution and a direct attack on our state’s economic viability. We will lose high quality teachers and fail to attract new business as a result of these harsh policies.”