Education Jobs Go On the Chopping Block as NC General Assembly Overrides Governor’s Veto

By Richard Thayer

Education went to the chopping block Wednesday night as the Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly voted to override Governor Beverly Perdue’s budget veto. The vote in the Senate was along party lines while five Democrats in the House sided with the Republicans. The $19.7 billion spending plan will cut sales taxes while preserving “essential” (emphasis added) programs. This according to Republicans in justifying the cuts.

Democrats, however (with the exception of the five mentioned above), say that the cuts will result in thousands of those in the educational field losing their jobs.

Commenting on the Republican victory, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said that “our $19.7 billion budget will do more for public classrooms and help the economy create more jobs than (Perdue’s) proposal.”

Most Democrats, and progressive voters in the state, believe as does Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth, that “someday we’re going to be looking at some of these cuts and we’re going to say this is the time where we turned away from education.”

In the meantime, as the freshly minted budget would eliminate thousands of jobs and freeze the pay of many others who are still clinging to their jobs, Rep. Thom Tillis, R-Charlotte, has given raises to seven of his 14 member staff and hired a 15th staffer.

According to a recent article in the Raleigh News and Observer, Tillis has hired a new staffer for $70,000 a year and given some “fat” pay raises to half of his staff. Most notable among them is a $30,000 pay hike to his general counsel and chief of staff. The counsel’s pay was increased from a paltry $110,000 to $140,000 and his chief of staff’s went from $120,000 to $150,000.

This would seem to be in line with other hypocritical acts performed by our state and federal officials of late whose slogan seems to be “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Although those of us who were against the state’s budget proposal and for Governor Perdue’s veto have lost this round, please remember that there are many more rounds yet to go between now and November 2012. We are not down for the count.

Listed below are several other issues that are yet to be decided in the North Carolina General Assembly. This is information provided to us by Kevin Rogers, Legislative Director for Action, NC.

House Bill 351 which would require citizens to show government-issued photo ID every time they vote,even though they proved their identity when they first registered. This bill would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians.

House Bill 744 will effectively make ICE agents out of school principals and erode trust between school administration and families. It would allow school principals to ask parents whether the child is a citizen or a national of the United States, and if the child is not, the immigration status of the child. This is a blatantly anti-immigration bill that is both mean-spirited and legally dubious.

Senate Bill 9 is a bill that would reverse the 2009 Racial Justice Act, taking the state’s law books back to where they were before the commonsense law took effect. It would also nullify the more than 150 appeals death-row inmates and criminal suspects have made in the past two years, as well as rulings that have thus far been made.

Senate Bill 47 would repeal same-day registration in North Carolina, ban straight-ticket voting, shorten the early-voting period by a week, and ban early voting on Sundays. This bill is specifically designed to deny voting access to thousands of our fellow citizens.

Take a moment to thank Governor Perdue for standing with the average people of North Carolina and urge her to continue to take principled stands against legislation that will continue to take us back, rather than move us forward.


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