Wake County Commissioners flout state, invest in schools | Triangulator | Indy Week

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Wake County Commissioners flout state, invest in schools

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In other legislative news, the state Senate took a break from hating on the queers and telling chicks what to do with their uteruses to pat themselves on the back in advance for cutting income taxes (again!) and redistributing sales tax revenues to prop up the small, flailing rural counties they come from. This, of course, comes at the expense of metros like Raleigh and Durham—you know, the places that actually create jobs and lure new residents. Who needs that shit?

The Legislature's supply-side shenanigans, especially its decimation of public school systems, has forced local leaders to make difficult budgetary decisions to minimize the damage. Exhibit A: the $1.14 billion budget Wake County passed Monday, which allocates an extra $34.6 million to the county's school system, a 10 percent increase over last year but not quite what the school board had asked for. Much of the money will go toward raising teachers' salaries and paying bus drivers, cafeteria workers and janitors a living wage.

"I don't believe we can sit idly by and watch schools suffer because the Legislature has abdicated their responsibility," said Commissioner Matt Calabria.

Considering that North Carolina ranked 46th in the nation for per-pupil spending in a recent report from the Education Law Center, and was awarded an F for state spending on education compared to its total fiscal capacity, maybe he's got a point.

So now Wake has to invest more in schools, not to mention all the other things a growing county needs to fund. How will this all be paid for? A property-tax hike, of course. Expect your property taxes to go up by 3.65 percent, or about $73 a year on a $200,000 home.

But hey, enjoy the Senate's proposed 0.2 percent income tax cut.

And, well, if Wake County can have nice schools, it sure as hell can't have a nice mass-transit system, too—or so the thinking (or lack thereof) goes on Jones Street.

Couched within with the tax-cut grab-bag is a provision that restricts counties to a quarter-cent sales tax increase. Recall that Wake has been banking on holding a referendum next year to raise the sales tax by a half-cent to pay for our fancy-pants new bus and rail transit plan.

Commissioner John Burns is speaking our language: "The attack on the transit referendum and sales tax reappropriation plan is a missile aimed directly at the heart of urban North Carolina," he said. "We're moving the county forward against stiff headwinds."

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