Judge David Lee recently and unexpectedly declared that the General Assembly is an unnamed defendant in the long-running Leandro case. The General Assembly has never been a party to the Leandro lawsuit, and Judge Lee has never identified them as such during his five years of oversight of the case. Despite calling for a “cooperative effort” with the legislature in April, Judge Lee plans to penalize the General Assembly for failing to approve a budget that does not include all components of the court-approved remedial plan.
A recent order by the North Carolina Supreme Court confirms that its four Democratic members may attempt to disqualify two of the court’s three Republican justices from a case seeking to nullify constitutional amendments voters approved in 2018. In addition to being unjustified and unprecedented, such a blatant act of partisan gamesmanship would seriously harm the court as an institution and permanently damage the reputations and electoral prospects of the justices involved. If successful, it would also effectively disenfranchise the millions of North Carolina voters who approved the constitutional amendments and elected the disqualified justices.
Gov. Cooper likely would sign a state budget that includes the first two years of a multi-billion-dollar plan developed by a California-based consulting firm without input from legislators. Lawmakers should reject Cooper’s offer because the court-ordered plan is an affront to the constitutional authority of the General Assembly to direct taxpayer dollars. Rather than concede to a consulting firm’s plan favored by an unelected judge, lawmakers should continue to empower parents by expanding public and private school choice options.
The $1.9 billion Leandro school funding plan will be the focus of budget negotiations between Gov. Cooper and lawmakers. Cooper wants a state budget that funds every dollar of the court-ordered plan, and budget conferees from the House and Senate do not. If the legislature does not pass a budget that includes the entire Leandro plan by October 18, Judge David Lee promised to use the court’s “remedial powers to secure such funding.”
Federal Covid legislation has brought over $6 billion in funding to North Carolina schools. The additional money equates to approximately $3,900 per student, almost four times the 2019-20 annual federal per-student expenditure ($994). Pressure to spend the money wisely is real — and good — because resources used to address specific Covid-related needs, expand student and parental options, and tie spending to the student will be money well spent.
For nearly three decades, Leandro v. State of North Carolina has had the potential to bring together elected officials from the legislative, executive, and judicial branches for the benefit of public education. Even though the General Assembly has direct authority over public school funding and policy, Cooper and the courts failed to solicit input from members of the General Assembly. The decision by the judicial and executive branches to treat the General Assembly as a pariah will undermine efforts to cultivate legislative or popular acceptance of the remedial plan adopted by the court.
The NAACP has asked the North Carolina Supreme Court to overturn the results of the 2018 election as they pertain to two constitutional amendments approved by the voters. It has been reported that the four Democrats on the court may try to disqualify two Republican justices from the case, a partisan attack that, in addition to being unjustified and unprecedented, would do lasting damage to the court as an institution and permanently damage the reputations and electoral prospects of the justices involved. If successful, such an attack would also have the effect of disenfranchising the North Carolina voters who approved the constitutional amendments and the voters who elected the disqualified justices.
The North Carolina General Assembly is still finalizing a two-year budget. Budget proposals from the House, Senate, and governor would have varying effects on North Carolina’s fiscal future. Spending restraint, tax cuts, and considerable savings would contribute to more opportunities and bigger paychecks for North Carolina families.
North Carolina reportedly had a record year of investment in film productions in 2021 despite having a cap on its film grant, a seemingly counterintuitive result that's consistent with research on film incentives. Owing to so many other factors influencing film productions, research has found film incentives have diminishing returns and argued for strictly limiting the incentives even if they're to grow the film industry as opposed to the state's economy. Research also finds that film incentives fail at growing a state's economy, returning only cents per dollar of tax credit or grant given.
The state House budget would restore salary supplements for public school educators with a master’s degree. Decades of empirical research failed to establish a relationship between master’s degrees and student performance. Possible research-based compromises include restoring master’s pay for teachers who obtain their degrees in their teaching subject or supporting teachers who pursue National Board Certification.
John Locke Updates by Year
John Locke Updates by Author
by Update Type
John Locke Updates by Category
Copyright 2021 John Locke Foundation. All Rights Reserved