Gov. Bev Perdue today urged members of the General Assembly to stop and look at the layoffs of hundreds of teachers and teacher assistants announced in Union County this week as the latest, painful evidence of the need to restore funding to North Carolina's schools.
"Hundreds of teachers and teacher assistants are being laid off, and that's just in one county," Gov. Perdue said. "The legislature made deep and unnecessary education cuts at a time when we should be strengthening our schools so they can prepare our children to compete in the 21st century economy."
After the legislature's cuts, K-12 schools in North Carolina are receiving $7.72 billion this year (that includes $258 million of temporary federal EduJobs money that disappears after this year).
After the legislature's cuts to this year's schools budget, more than 900 teachers were laid off, 2,000 teacher assistants were laid off and a total of 5,000 education jobs were lost.
Local superintendents from across the state have spoken out loudly about the harm the legislature's cuts are causing -- one even called the cuts "a huge cancer in our budget."
Under the budget the House passed recently--even despite all the layoffs and the outcry from superintendents--North Carolina schools would actually receive even less money next year than they're receiving this year ($7.69 billion).
"There is still time to fix the problem," Perdue said. "I have given the legislature two plans to rescue our schools and provide the funding our classrooms need. The General Assembly must act. Our children's future, and the future of our state are at risk."
"The legislature dug a hole in the budget for our schools, and Gov. Perdue gave them a way to fill it," said Dr. Bill Harrison, chair of the State Board of Education. "The budget the Governor sent to the General Assembly would restore ¾ of the one-cent sales tax increase that the legislature let lapse last year and would use that money to fill the hole that legislators left in the budget for schools. The leadership in the General Assembly has been unwilling to consider that plan. Now she has given the legislature another way to fix the cuts they made."
Yesterday the Governor offered an alternative: tax the thousands of sweepstakes games operating across the state. Gov. Perdue opposes online sweepstakes, but she said that, since the courts have allowed the games to continue operating, the state should regulate and tax them to help fund our schools.
Some estimates suggest that this initiative could raise $300 million next year, or more, depending on how it is structured.