Invest in the future, invest in education.

Our current state leadership projects a revenue surplus for the coming year. Yet they are asking all state agencies to show a 2% cut in their proposed budgets for the next legislative session.

School officials say a late August memo from Gov. Pat McCrory’s chief budget officer signals that all state departments, including the public schools, must soon present options for a 2 percent cut in their 2017-2019 budget, roughly a $173 million loss for North Carolina schools.

Departments are to turn in their budgets to the governor later this month. Considering the election will be right upon us when the budgets are made public, this was poor timing on someone’s part.

The State Department of Instruction (DPI) was to go over its budget for next year at an October 5th meeting, but budget discussions were pulled from the agenda. No one knows for sure if the McCrory administration decided to shelve budget considerations to prevent public discussions right before the election that might harm the governor’s reelection chances. After all, he has put so much effort into looking like a leader in preparations and clean up from Hurricane Matthew. Better to keep that in the public mind for the moment rather than read more stories about an ed system ranked 44th in the nation for funding and being asked to make even deeper cuts.

This is another reason to vote Democratic.

Much of North Carolina's growth over the past several decades has been the result of past improvements to public education. Programs and funding put in place by past governors and legislatures had improved our education system, leading to growth in graduation rates. Quality of education helped to draw companies to the Research Triangle Park.

Destroy public education and you destroy the future. The future of our citizens and the future of the state.

Ask your county commissioners how much they are willing to raise property taxes to make up for the losses in revenue from the state. Ask your neighbors how much more they are willing to pay in property taxes to make up for these losses. In some of our counties an increase in property taxes is simply not an option.

The issue of further budget cuts doesn’t affect just education. We have a legislature that bellyaches about rural counties being left out of the economic drivers that have enriched urban counties, but that same legislature constantly deprives those rural counties of the means of improving their lot--they specifically denied rural areas the ability to set up their own broadband systems, refused to expand medicaid, cut education funding repeatedly, and the list goes on.

Why do we need budget cuts in a year expected to show a surplus? Because there is still some hope that NC’s far right, ALEC controlled legislators can get a TABOR amendment--Tax Payers Bill of Rights-- into our state constitution, that would require any tax increases to be approved by impossibly large voting majorities.

The goal is to make spending as low as possible NOW so TABOR can cap it at it’s lowest, preventing ‘growth’ of government in the future. Meanwhile our population continues to grow and the number of school-aged children continues to increase.

...the memo issued to all departments indicates that any expansion requests in their budget proposals must be combined with reductions to create a revenue neutral budget or savings

.

Why are we doing this to ourselves? “Small government” is nothing more than a euphemism for No Regulations. Those pushing this agenda are not really concerned with individuals or small businesses, only with corporations and their yearly profit margins. Corporations that show multi-million dollars in profits, pay little to no federal income taxes, yet continue to complain that tax rates are too high and regulations hold them back. (If corporate tax rates do go down to 0%, what will corporations want then?)

Regulations do hold them back. Regulations hold them back from polluting both air and water. Hold them back from allowing a workplace to be so dangerous as to cause illness, injury and death amongst their employees. Hold them back from putting local communities in danger. What should happen when a corporations’ ability to make money runs smack up against an individual’s right to live?

These far right wing extremists want a TABOR amendment in the US Constitution as well as at the state level. They need to go back and read some history. Every war the United States has fought, was fought on debt. Starting with the Revolution all the way up to George Bush’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. A federal TABOR amendment would affect defense spending and our ability to maintain a strong military.

Our schools are falling victim to the agenda of out of state billionaires. Not only do they want privatization of education, allowing companies to wring a profit out of funds that have always been totally dedicated to helping kids learn, they also want to totally cripple state government by constantly depriving it of funds. To cut another $173 million dollars from public education (remember this includes the per pupil spending allotted to charter schools) will destroy education today, and the state’s future tomorrow.

You can read Billy Ball’s article on education cuts here.

Tags: