This year’s budget crunch brought varying proposals from the Governor, State Senate, and State House, each differing as to where and how deep the axe should fall on state bureaucracy. This Civitas budget breakdown evaluates the different cuts to the Education budget put forth by each branch of state government.
As education funding accounts for over half of North Carolina’s expenditures, they present a necessary avenue to cut back and reconcile an over $2 billion budget deficit. However, each branch of government tailored the Education budget to fit their specific priorities – whether they reside in the UNC System, K-12 Education, or increased taxation.
Governor Perdue opted to extend what was a temporary sales tax in order to account for a large portion of her budget, her tax hike costing tax payers an estimated $826 million. While increasing taxation during a recession, the extra revenue permitted Perdue to minimize cuts for education.
Promises made by Republicans in the House and Senate included no new taxes, which while easing the burden on North Carolinians by letting the temporarily elevated sales tax decline, forced difficult decisions to be made in budget cuts. Without the extended sales tax, House and Senate budget cuts in education nearly doubled those proposed by Governor Perdue. The House went to great lengths to ensure that budget cuts were highly prioritized to protect the classroom. The Senate budget is still in the negotiation phase, with details of specific cuts yet to emerge.
The charts display cuts relative to the amount of the FY11-12 Continuation Budget, which attempts to project the costs of continuing current levels of service adjusted for enrollment and inflation growth.
The N.C. House is at loggerheads with the Governor when it comes to cuts to education. While the House moved to fully fund teaching positions for the biennium budget, Teacher’s Assistants for 2nd and 3rd grades will be eliminated, a move which has prompted criticism from the governor.
Gov. Perdue’s budget plan would cut Public Schools by over $350 million. The Senate ($800 million) and House ($694 million) intend deeper cuts to Public Education.
Additionally, divergent viewpoints exist between the two legislative chambers on Public School cuts. The House (which has generally favored Public Education) and the Senate (preferential towards the UNC System) may find disagreements on which department under the education budget should shoulder the brunt of budget cuts. The Senate Target and the House Budget for Public Education differ by more than $100 million.
The Governor’s recommended budget cuts evenly distributed downsizing between the Community College and UNC Systems, hovering at nearly 8 percent, exceeding $85 million in cuts.
The House and Senate’s proposals cuts differ on Community Colleges, but within a margin of around $20 million. House cuts amount to over $110 million, with the Senate weighing in at a somewhat deeper $132 million.
For the UNC System, the Governor reserved her most stringent rate of cuts, approaching $229 million. These cuts reached nearly 8 percent of the UNC System budget.
The House proposed a cut of around $447 million, far deeper than the aims of the Senate. The N.C. Senate’s target for cuts totals $360 million.