House Democrats continued their assault on the proposed budget, arguing it would be better to keep the temporary one-cent sales tax increase than make deep cuts in public education.
Democrats say residents agree, pointing to an Elon University poll showing a majority supports keeping the sales tax to "take care of the budget shortfall."
Republicans want temporary taxes approved during the depths of the recession to expire, arguing that their approach will stimulate economic growth. House Speaker Thom Tillis praised the proposed budget this week for cutting taxes and restoring "over $1 billion to the public sector."
Democrats distributed a chart prepared by the state Department of Public Instruction showing that 10 percent of all public school employees, or nearly 15 percent of employees paid with state funds, would lose their jobs under the Republican House budget.
The official budget document shows fewer than 80 jobs lost, but it doesn't count losses in the local districts. DPI said 18,532 jobs would be lost, including 11,086 teacher assistants, 85 principals, 555 assistant principals and 3,707 classroom teachers.
Republican budget writers say their budget protects classroom teachers. Democrats say that districts will have to cut them to absorb the discretionary reductions.
"We believe the people of North Carolina value public education," said House Minority Leader Joe Hackney, an Orange County Democrat.
"It is a North Carolina value. This breaks with those values, that tradition."
The House will vote on the budget next week.