Berger's own budget buster threatens state's AAA rating

Much hand wringing these days from Phil Berger over the governor's decision to follow the law on pre-K funding, with plenty of posturing about how that decision might be a threat to our state's AAA credit rating. For the record, Berger's $360 million number applies only if EVERY potential child that might, in some way, be eligible for the program actually enrolled. What Berger hasn't mentioned, however, is the potentially devastating impact that his own pet project, House Bill 344, will have on the budget and our credit rating. "Tax Credits for Children with Disabilities" could cost NC taxpayers as much as $720 million next year alone.

Governor Perdue allowed the bill to go into law without her signature.

So what's the bottom line impact of Berger's Budget Busting Bill? Let's use the same logic Republicans are using for their pre-K hysteria.

  • Fact: As many as 120,000 special needs kids could be eligible.
  • Fact: This tax break for ALL families, regardless of income, would be $720 million ($6,000 x 120,000)

Could the number be that high? Heck yes, and it could be even higher. Here's how the state statute (G.S. 115C-106.3 defines the landscape:

"Child with a disability" means a child with at least one disability who because of that disability requires special education and related services.

"Disability" includes mental retardation; hearing impairment, including deafness; speech or language impairment; visual impairment, including blindness; serious emotional disturbance; orthopedic impairment; autism; traumatic brain injury; other health impairments, specific learning disability, or other disability as may be required to be included under IDEA. For a child ages three through seven, this term also includes developmental delay.

The fiscal note on the tax credit bill says that while the total pool of eligible students is about 120,000, the estimate of those who would likely seek the credit is about 1 or 2 percent of that total.

One cannot help but wonder why Phil Berger's exaggerated $360 million impact for poor pre-schoolers is a budget buster, but the $720 million price tag kids with ADD or ADHD in private schools and home schools, isn't a problem worth noting.

Wonder no more. The explanation is simple. Phil Berger is a radical extremist who is working every day to destroy public education.


I don't have an issue with the money for families with children

with disabilites who need it. I know several families who struggle because of the additional expenses because of the child's disabilities.

What I have a problem with is not raising revenue to pay for programs. What I have a problem with is not being honest about the cost of programs. What I have a problem with is not limiting the cost of the program by putting a limit on the top income on the recipients of the benefit. If you earn $500,000 a year, you don't need the state's $6,000. But if you earn $30,000 a year, that $6,000 might make sure that your 15 year old car keeps running so you can continue to go to work to pay for the therapies your child needs. Or pay for the therapies themselves because your insurance, or medicare, does not cover them.

I just wish people would think these things through. It's really not that hard. Geez.