July 11, 2014 Legislative Update
In This Issue…
- Budget Stalemate Continues
- Gov. McCrory Says He’ll Veto Senate Version of Budget
- PENC’s Perspective
- Compromise Reached on Common Core Repeal
Lawmakers took a break from budget deliberations – and from each other – during the July 4th holiday. Hopes ran high that the respite would provide state lawmakers an opportunity to reflect upon differences and find room for compromise.
Those hopes were dashed on July 9 when Senate budget negotiators walked out of a House-led meeting where Education advocates – including Superintendents of North Carolina’s largest school districts – asked lawmakers to keep teacher assistants in the classroom. You can see video of that meeting from the WRAL-TV link here. Within the first 5 minutes of the video, you can see Senators walking out of the meeting.
Although Senate members agreed on July 8 to remove tenure as a condition for educator salary increases, they refused to revise their position to pay for the raises from savings generated by teacher assistant layoffs and Medicaid eligibility cuts to the most vulnerable North Carolinians – those in the Aged, Blind and Disabled category. Without a willingness to revise those positions and adjust pay raises to a sustainable rate, the stalemate appears to be the only agreed-on position.
Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said on July 10 that he would veto the budget if it looked like the Senate’s plan. In a statement, and then in subsequent interviews, Gov. McCrory said: “I will veto the latest Senate plan or any plan that resembles it because I know of no financial way we can go beyond the House proposal without eliminating thousands of teacher assistants, cutting Medicaid recipients and putting at risk future core state services.” His full statement appears below:
Gov. McCrory’s statement supports PENC’s long-held position, which has been repeatedly shared with lawmakers. PENC initiated another opportunity for members to communicate concerns with their Senators about the Senate budget proposed on July 9. If you have not already participated in PENC’s call to action, please do so through our Action Center now!
PENC receives questions frequently about the consequences of inaction – lack of agreement – on a budget. The budget that was enacted in 2013 was a biennial – two year – budget as required by North Carolina law. Lawmakers are not compelled to revise the budget this year because a budget is in place at present. If lawmakers adjourn without a budget agreement, then the budget enacted in 2013 will remain in effect. That means no teacher or state employee pay raises will be implemented. It would also mean that the fix to the Masters’ degree supplement PENC has sought would not happen.
So; yes, lawmakers could leave Raleigh without revising the budget. But, if they did so, the probability is very great that Gov. McCrory would call them back to Raleigh to act on a budget and fulfill one of the cornerstone promises made in February 2014, which is to raise teachers’ salaries. PENC would be among those asking Gov. McCrory to call lawmakers back into session to do the right thing for teachers and state employees and, most of all, for North Carolina’s children.
The House and Senate reached an agreement on S812, Maintain State Authority over Education Standards. The agreement adopts the Senate’s version, which would repeal Common Core, but leave the standards in place until new standards are developed. The successor standards would be adopted by an independent commission and could be an amalgamation of those used in other states — including elements of Common Core.
The Senate accepted the new agreement on July 10. The House must do likewise before sending it to Gov. McCrory, who must sign the bill into law in order for the changes to go into effect.
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