July 18, 2014 Legislative Update


In This Issue...

  1. Same Song, Second Verse: Budget Stalemate Continues 
  2. Gov. McCrory Says He'll OK Common Core Compromise

Same Song, Second Verse: Budget Stalemate Continues

Gridlock in Raleigh continues – and we’re not talking about traffic on the I40/I440 interchange. We are talking about budget negotiations on Jones Street.

House members discussed their budget proposal publicly on July 14, including a 6 percent educator pay raise. You can see the slides from that presentation here. No Senators attended that meeting to engage in discussion. The Senate convened a meeting the next day, July 15, which House members attended. During the meeting, they reviewed the Senate’s latest offer, which can be seen here.

The sticking points continue to be educator pay raises, teacher assistant layoffs and Medicaid eligibility changes. The latest Senate offer would increase teacher salaries by 8 percent, reduce teacher assistant layoffs in half and modify the Medicaid eligibility changes. While the details were not shared, what did emerge through the discussion and questions is that the TA layoffs would be cut in half in the upcoming school year, but half of the funded positions would be made with one-time money. Put another way, only one fourth of the current funding allotment for TAs would be recurring money. Next year, funds for the other fourth of TAs currently funded would expire.

While initial media reports led observers to believe that the Senate and House moved closer to an agreement, the reality is that closed-door discussions among them deteriorated over fundamental issues of education funding and Medicaid reforms. Reports were that the closed-door meetings that ensued on July 16 were heated and pushed the sides deeper into their respective corners.

Both chambers adjourned their business for the week and sent members home to their districts for the weekend. Hopefully, the opportunity to “cool off” will allow members to return to Raleigh July 21 with a fresh perspective and willingness to resolve the differences. 

Gov. McCrory Says He'll OK Common Core Compromise

Gov. Pat McCrory stated July 16 that he would approve S812, Maintain State Authority over Education Standards. The bill repeals Common Core education standards, but leaves them in place until new ones are developed. The successor standards would be adopted by an independent commission and could be an amalgamation of those used in other states - including elements of Common Core. The State Board of Education would ultimately have to approve new standards.

Common Core Standards have become an issue of national controversy. More than 45 states initially approved the standards for English, Language Arts and Mathematics, which grew out of a bipartisan effort to better prepare students for the global economy. The standards, which were supported by the business community, including the NC Chamber of Commerce, were vigorously opposed in North Carolina and elsewhere by some parents and groups such as Americans for Prosperity. Some states have pushed for their repeal. North Carolina’s debate attracted national attention, most recently in the Washington Post.

PENC members expressed the desire to maintain standard stability. Much time, energy and resources have been invested in North Carolina to implement Common Core. The standards should remain in place long enough to see if they’re working.

What do you think?
If you have questions or concerns, please share your thoughts and ideas with us.
Contact us at [email protected].
Submitted by Evelyn Hawthorne

 For more information about the North Carolina General Assembly, click here.
To identify and contact your legislators, click here.
For information about specific issues, please contact PENC government relations consultant Evelyn Hawthorne at [email protected].