Today, Governor Cooper was joined by teachers and other public school personnel to speak about his veto of the budget crafted in secret and passed last week by legislative Republicans.
“The Republican legislature’s budget keeps income tax breaks for corporations and families making over $200,000 a year instead of investing in education,” Governor Cooper said.
Last month, tens of thousands of educators marched in Raleigh in support of higher pay and more resources for public education. Gov. Cooper proposed Tax Fairness for Teacher Pay – freezing additional tax cuts for corporations and families earning more than $200,000 per year and using those funds to raise teacher pay to the national average in four years. Gov. Cooper recommended raises for every teacher, averaging 8%, a stipend for school supplies, and a $130 million investment in improving school safety.
Instead, legislative Republicans chose to protect their tax breaks for wealthy people and corporations at the expense of public schools. The Republican budget failed to provide a raise for all teachers and invested $100 million less than needed in school safety.
“Unfortunately, every day North Carolinians were shut out from this year’s budget process in an unprecedented power grab by legislative leaders,” Gov. Cooper said.
For the first time in modern history, Republican leaders met behind closed doors with lobbyists to craft the budget and refused to receive public input or allow votes on amendments. As North Carolinians learned more about the spending plan, other major shortcomings came to light:
- New protections for clean drinking water were rolled back at the urging of industry lobbyists
- Legislation was added protecting the I-77 toll lanes contract, prohibiting changes without legislative approval
- $50 million in federal funding for early childhood education was redirected in order to fund more tax breaks for the wealthy, leaving tens of thousands of children without access to quality early childhood education
- No funding for the state’s Suicide Prevention Hotline was included
- The Infant Screening Fee, a birth tax on new mothers, was tripled
- New funding for school supplies was provided to districts with Republicans at risk of losing their elections instead of to teachers across the state in the form of a school supply stipend
- Opportunities for transformative light rail transportation projects that would help with economic development were squashed
- A plan to expand Medicaid and close the health care coverage gap at no additional cost to the state was rejected
- A measure that was included would allow cities to raise taxes to establish charter schools that could ultimately lead to increased school segregation
- $102 million was spent on earmarks in selected legislators’ communities
“This budget has the wrong priorities and is irresponsible. It values tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy at the expense of public education not only this year, but for years to come,” Gov. Cooper said.