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Report: Budget Puts North Carolina on Path to Mediocrity

Photo: North Carolina classrooms will see a reduction in teaching assistants and increased class size. Courtesy: Public Schools First NC

Photo: North Carolina classrooms will see a reduction in teaching assistants and increased class size. Courtesy: Public Schools First NC


August 13, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. - Of all the words echoed in Raleigh describing the recently-enacted state budget - such as: tax cuts, business growth, charter-school vouchers - missing is the word "mediocrity" - but a new report uses it to describe state programs under the budget. The NC Budget & Tax Center found that tax cuts for the wealthy and big business will cost the state almost $3 billion in revenue over the next five years.

According to Tazra Mitchell, author of the report, the problem starts in the Capitol.

"Legislators handed us a budget that continues to put the train on the wrong tracks," she declared. "It finances tax cuts for millionaires, and they pay for it by enacting deep service cuts to programs that North Carolinians value and care about."

Mitchell said the state budget shifts economic investments from low-income populations and directs it toward efforts to attract big businesses to the state. Supporters say that's vital to ensure North Carolina's economic future.

The budget includes reduced funding for teachers, eliminates the student cap on classrooms, and eliminates funding for one in five teaching assistants. It includes $23 million more than last year for education, but according to Yevonne Brannon, chief of Public Schools First NC, that's irrelevant.

"Maybe they put a dollar more than last year, but that's not really the point," she said. "Does our budget adequately fund education? Clearly, it does not."

K-12 education funding falls $180 million short of the amount that is needed at last year's service levels, according to the Office of State Budget and Management.

Tazra Mitchell stated that research indicates that deep tax cuts won't be the promised boon for the economy that supporters claim.

"Businesses care more than just about low taxes," she said. "They care about an educated workforce - so whenever you think about the budget falling short across the board in education spending, it's really troublesome."

That report is at tinyurl.com/lf7fh7m.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC
 

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