North Carolina's Budget Negotiations (Update 6-25-2017)

North Carolina senators were recently in a very heated discussion about the state’s budget.  The negotiations and discussions went on into the wee hours of the morning.  

After many back-and-forth amendments, a recess was reportedly called by Republicans.  Republican lawmakers then came back to the session and proposed a $1 million amendment to fight opioid addiction.  The vote on the budget took place shortly after the amendment was proposed and the budget passed the Senate.

The catch to this amendment is that the funds are reported to be taken from existing initiatives all in Democratic-led areas in North Carolina.  The most disheartening thing is that they have slotted money to be taken from education in areas led by Democrats and ONLY in areas led by Democrats.

The money for the last-minute initiative is slated to be paid for in the following ways:

  • by taking away $316,646 from two college-ready high schools in the district that is represented by the African-American Democratic State Senator, Erica Smith-Ingram;
  • by deleting state funding for a STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—summer program that mostly serves African-American students called the Eastern North Carolina STEM program (also in Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram’s area);
  • by redirecting funds away from a program that gives teachers assistants a stipend if they are working toward a degree or a professional license—this reallocation would affect teachers assistants in seven counties, both of which are represented by Democratic senators (the program would still be available for teacher assistants in Republican-led counties);
  • the amendment would also take money away from efforts to provide produce to food deserts, (and other areas) from the North Carolina Museum of Art for additional staff and away from revitalization efforts in downtown areas (except for one revitalization project that is in a Republican-led district);
  • the amendment would also eliminate a position requested by the governor to work with national authorities on things like disaster relief in North Carolina.

This is unconscionable—taking money away from African-American students in low-income districts in the area of education!

We have to do something about this.  If you know someone in North Carolina, tell them to contact their congressman or congresswoman to voice the strong opposition to cutting funding for two high schools AND the Eastern North Carolina STEM program.

The state House still has to develop its budget proposal, the above amendment already passed in the Senate’s version.  It should take the House about one to two weeks to come up with their budget and to present it on the floor.  After that, the two sides will go into conference to possibly reconcile differences between the two budgets.  If we make our voices heard, there is a good chance that funding for those two high schools and the STEM program will be restored (among other things).

UPDATE 5-25-2017

The House in North Carolina recently unveiled its version of the budget, after the Senate's version passed.

The budget from the House:

  • restores $300,000 in funding for next year for the Eastern North Carolina STEM program,
  • puts the two early college schools, in Northampton and Washington counties, back on the list of eligible schools to receive additional funds, and
  • eliminates funding, altogether, for the program that would give stipends to teachers assistants when they are in pursuit of a professional license or degree (the Senate's budget took funds from Democratic areas and redistributed them to Republican areas alone, the House proposes to eliminate it altogether).

There is still time to contact representatives in North Carolina.  This is just the proposed budget for the House.  It still has to be voted on and the two sides (North Carolina's House and Senate) still have to agree on a final budget.

UPDATE 6-25-2017

ALL of the funding stripped away from democratic-only districts has been restored in the final budget voted upon and negotiated between both houses in North Carolina, including fair funding for the two early college high schools in democratic districts; funding for the Eastern North Carolina STEM Program, original funding for stipends for teachers assistants, etc.  THANK YOU to anybody who spoke up about this issue!  We simply can't let our politician function without our active support and/or involvement!

 

Copyright 2017, Red and Black Ink LLC.

References:

Bonner, Lynn.  "NC House partly restores education money from Senate's 3 a.m. cut." The News & Observer.  May 25, 2017.

Gibbs, Lindsay. “North Carolina Senate GOP targets children who live in Democratic districts.”  Think Progress, May 14, 2017.

Granados, Alex.  “Deal in works to restore education funding stripped from budget.”  EducationNC, May 16, 2017.  Accessed May 17, 2017.

Danita Smith