Senate budget proposal draws concerns over funding for education
Updated: 06/11/2012 05:17 PM
By: Julie Fertig
RALEIGH-- The Senate unveiled its new budget proposal , which makes adjustments to the current two-year state budget. The plan aims to improve education without raising taxes.
Opponents, including Gov. Bev Perdue, feel the proposal does not do enough to restore funding to North Carolina schools and will hurt teachers and students.
Senator Pro-Tem Phil Berger said the plan would restore $158 million recurring dollars to the state's K-12 education system.
However, unlike the House's budget proposal, the Senate's plan does not include funds to make up for the several hundred million dollars worth of federal stimulus dollars that will end next year.
"The locals can decide to use that money for the same thing that the federal stimulus money was used for but we've not technically 'back-filled' the federal dollars with state dollars," Berger said.
Under the proposal, most state workers would get a 1.2 percent raise, except the raise would be optional for public school workers. Each school district would get to decide how to spend their school system's money.
"They also say in that same budget that superintendents can take that money and fill in classroom cuts,"said Brian Lewis, with the North Carolina Association of Educators.
Elizabeth Whisenant, who's been teaching for nearly seven years but earns the salary of a second year teacher, fears some educators may chose another profession.
"You have good teachers. Well, a good teacher can't stay in a county that can't pay for things, can't give them resources," said Whisenant, a 5th grade teacher at Millbrook Elementary School.
The Senate's budget proposal would also put $230 million back into the Medicaid program, put an extra $100 million into the rainy day fund and help drivers save more than one cent per gallon every time they fill up.
"As promised, the budget cuts and freezes the state's gas tax at 37.5 cents per gallon," Berger said.
Still, opponents like Whisenant remain concerned. Without more money for education, they fear the budget could hurt students.
"What's effecting kids in the classroom is you're losing really good teachers," reflected Whisenant.
Berger hopes the house and Senate can agree on a budget adjustment proposal by the end next week. Afterward, the plan will head to Gov. Perdue for approval.
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