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Morning Memo: Education takes center stage

State Reps. Larry Hall of Durham and Rick Glazier of Fayetteville, both Democrats, called on the State Board of Education Thursday to protect the master's pay supplement for the graduating class of 2014.

The State Board imposes an April 1 deadline for completing the paperwork for teachers to get a pay supplement for having received their Master's degree. The new state budget gets rid of the pay supplement but grandfathers in those teachers who already receive it. Hall and Glazier think those teachers who went back to school to receive their masters under the impression that they'd get the pay raise (which would theoretically help pay for the cost of the degree) should be entitled to the supplement.

They've asked Superintendent June Atkinson to request that the State Board of Education extend the deadline to June 30, 2014.

TGIF and welcome to Dome's Morning Memo.

Morning Memo: House, Senate leaders claim victories in budget deal

BUDGET DEAL UNVEILED: House and Senate leaders released the compromise $20.6 billion budget plan Sunday evening. House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger can claim wins. Eugenics compensation and vouchers are priorities for Tillis, a candidate for U.S. Senate. Berger has tried for more than a year to end teacher tenure. The two men's victories speak volumes about their political leanings and strategy and how a potential race between them would look. Berger will decide by the end of the month whether he will challenge Tillis in the GOP primary.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The 12th "Moral Monday" demonstration at the legislature will focus on a new voter ID measure. More than 800 protesters have been arrested so far with more expected Monday.

The Senate worked Friday and left the House quite a to-do list. The House calendar today includes bills pertaining to private school vouchers, a massive rewrite of state regulations, drug testing and background checks for public assistance recipients, fracking and charter schools. A bill to further delay Jordan Lake water quality standards is also on the agenda. The Senate won't take any votes Monday -- allowing Senate leader Phil Berger to attend the Republican State Leadership Committee meeting in California. He is chairman of the organization's campaign committee.

***Get more on the state state budget and a North Carolina political news roundup to start the final week of the legislative session below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

UNC's Ross warns of 'sobering implications' for education in House budget

UNC President Tom Ross weighed in Friday on the House budget that passed this week, saying it has "sobering implications" for the university campuses.

"Across the country, state leaders from both parties are making strategic investments in their public universities," Ross told the UNC Board of Governors. "They understand that talent is the most valuable commodity in today's economic competition and they're gearing up to compete."

Pat McCrory's "Aha!" moment

Gov. Pat McCrory raised the possibility Wednesday that public education leaders- from pre-K to the university system - would get together on a budget to send legislators rather than have each sector work separately with the governor's office on the proposal.

McCrory described it as his "Aha!" moment as he assembled his first budget.

Closer collaboration on budgeting was one of the goals discussed at the first Education Cabinet meeting in the McCrory administration.The cabinet has the branches of state education and a representative of independent universities consider joint projects and ways to cooperate.

A collaborative budget would be a switch from current practice, where budget requests are developed separately and the K-12 public education and the UNC system often seen to be competing for money at the legislature.

McCrory said he and his budget staff thought it would be better to have pre-K through universities work on a budget together - "have an education budget as opposed to a university budget, or a K-12 budget, or a community college budget, or a pre-K budget."

McCrory acknowledged that there is already information shared. For example, leaders of the community college system meet regularly with UNC system leaders and with the state Department of Public Instruction. But McCrory wants a formal process with his office in on it.

Legislative preview: Meet your delegation, look at the issues, meet key players

On Wednesday, the General Assembly returns to Raleigh to begin the long session, which is expected to last about five months. In today's paper we take a comprehensive look at the people and the issues that will be making the news, and the laws, in the months ahead. From lawmakers to lobbyists -- and lawmakers turned lobbyists -- plus key staffers behind the scenes, and an army of competing interests, the statehouse on Jones Street is about to begin whistling like a kettle.

No money for high school tests

State legislators want high school students to take the stanadardized tests ACT and WorkKeys, but provided no money in the budget for them.

Legislators last year endorsed the move toward these national standardized tests as a means of measuring school quality and student readiness for college or work. Schools gave 11th graders the ACT this spring, but the state Department of Public Instruction had to scrape together the money to pay for it.

June Atkinson, state superintendent of public instruction, told legislative leaders in a letter last week that the department probably wouldn't be able to scrounge up enough money to pay for another round.

GOP synergy on education between McCrory, legislature

What if Pat McCrory becomes governor and a third of his education platform is already built?

Several points in Republican candidate's education plan are already sitting on Gov. Bev Perdue's desk. The education plan Senate Republicans promoted this year had significant overlap with McCrory's, and the proposals are rolled into the state budget legislators passed last week.

End third grade social promotion? Check.

The Senate plan would limit promotion of third graders who do not read at grade level.

Budget close to finished, adjournment possible July 2

House Speaker Thom Tillis says the budget is nearly finished. After a few details are decided, the plan is to read it in tonight. There will be a press conference tomorrow morning. 

Big differences in the House and Senate versions of the budget : school spending and roads. "Right now it's looking like a consensus budget that takes some of the better aspects of the House budget and some good ideas on the Senate budget in terms of changes in recurring and nonrecurring sources," Tillis said. 

The plan is to have a vote by Friday and give Gov. Bev Perdue 10 days to sign or veto it, Tillis said. The veto deadline would expire Sunday, July 1. That would give the legislature time to deal with a veto override in time to end the session by July 2, Tillis said. 

House Dems bash GOP budget

The mostly GOP-authored budget does not do enough for public education, House Democrats said at a news conference Wednesday

Democrats made their budget critique a few hours before the full House was scheduled to vote on the $20.3 billion plan. Republicans scraped together about $330 million to put toward K-12 education next year, enough to maintain the financial status quo.

But House Democrats said the budget continues to shortchange K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities. Democrats stopped short, however, of recommending a tax increase to raise more money. "It's up to them to find the money to meet the needs of this state," said House Minority Leader Joe Hackney, an Orange County Democrat.

An "A" for effort on the House education budget

June Atkinson, state superintendent for public instruction, likes the House proposed budget for education.

In a statement today, Atkinson asked the full House Appropriations Committee to approve the education budget subcommittee's proposal.

Most Democrats haven't had such nice things to say about GOP-authored budgets,  but the House education draft has drawn some qualified praise from House Democrats.

The proposal adds money to the K-12 budget to replace $259 million in federal stimulus money that is running out, and negates a $74 million reduction local districts have to take next year.

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