by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
Dem. Gov. Roy Cooper released his budget proposal on Wednesday, August 26. Not only was his budget proposal abbreviated, but it wasn’t even on time. JLF’s Dr. Terry Stoops writes:
We teach our children to submit their work complete and on time. Yesterday, Gov. Cooper released what he called a “streamlined budget much smaller than any kind of regular budget” four months late. A good teacher would hand it back to the student immediately. Lawmakers should take a similar approach.
The budget he did provide would add $5 billion in new debt – $1 billion without requiring taxpayer approval – and take money from a low-income children’s education scholarship fund, among other things. Dr. Stoops explains:
Cooper’s daughter attended a private school in Raleigh, but his budget would prohibit thousands of families with modest incomes from having the same opportunity. Cooper’s plan would eliminate $85 million in funding for the continued expansion of North Carolina’s popular private school scholarship program for low-income children.
What’s more, Cooper’s plan would continue to pay schools for students they aren’t teaching. Dr. Stoops writes:
The so-called “hold harmless” approach championed by Cooper, the State Board of Education, and public school advocacy organizations is based partly on the assumption that schools should not be penalized for families who leave due to dissatisfaction with school reopening plans.
I sympathize with those who complain that Cooper’s mid-July school reopening announcement restricted the reopening options available to public schools and limited the amount of time that school leaders had to implement them. Cooper put North Carolina’s district and charter schools in a tough spot. Yet school boards did themselves no favors by limiting the options further, such as selecting a full-time remote learning option for the initial weeks of the school year.
Plus, of course, a raise:
It wouldn’t be a Roy Cooper budget without a wink and a nod to public school and higher education personnel… Cooper’s budget would throw $360 million in one-time dollars for across-the-board teacher and principal bonuses ($2,000), noncertified public school employees ($1,000), and UNC System and community college employees ($1,500).
Last year, Cooper rebuffed an offer by Republican lawmakers to award teachers a far-superior 4.9% raise and a $1,000 bonus.
Overall, the budget proposal puts teachers, administrators, and the public school status-quo over students, particularly those predominantly minority low-income students who could be stripped of their scholarships by his hands.