by Bob Geary
Governor Bev Perdue kicked off the 2012 budget debate today — and (unofficially) kicked off her 2012 re-electon campaign — with a call for increased school funding. Specifically, she wants 3/4ths of that temporary 1-cent sales tax for education back temporarily.
(Which, by the way, would yield a tidy $863 million in extra revenues next year, according to the N.C. Budget & Tax Center's Alexandra Sirota.)
The N.C. Council of Churches approves. Here's the council's "Raleigh Report" fresh off the tubes, suggesting that you let the governor and your legislators know where you stand —
Raleigh Report Network—
Governor Perdue earlier today called on the General Assembly to restore three-quarters of a cent of sales tax which the General Assembly allowed to expire last year and to use the money to reduce cuts to education.
In her statement, the Governor noted that “The North Carolina Association of School Administrators pointed out recently that North Carolina has fallen to 49th in the nation in per-pupil funding. The legislature’s budget has hurt education at all levels — from pre-k all the way through higher education — and has led to higher class sizes and the loss of thousands of teacher and teaching assistant positions. And their budget forces even more teacher layoffs next year — we must act to prevent these additional cuts.”
The Covenant with North Carolina’s Children, of which the NC Council of Churches was a founding member, pointed out that “nearly 1,800 educators lost their jobs as a result of last year’s budget. Additionally, funding cuts to NC Pre-K (formerly known as More at Four) have resulted in the loss of over 6,300 pre-kindergarten slots for children.” Students in the state’s universities and community colleges are facing larger classes, fewer course options, higher tuitions, and the prospect of it taking more than four years to complete required courses for their degree.
The North Carolina Council of Churches has long supported a fair tax structure that raises funding necessary for the state to provide crucial services. Nothing the state does is more important for social justice that providing a sound basic education for the state’s children and young people, regardless of their ability to pay, regardless of where they live, and regardless of their varying abilities and disabilities.
We opposed the elimination of this emergency sales tax last year (and also the elimination of the emergency income tax surcharge on the state’s wealthiest citizens, which the Governor is not proposing to add back). The sales tax will be in the Governor’s budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, and we will join with others in advocating for its passage.
For now, you can take two actions:
1) E-mail the Governor and thank her for taking this courageous step to restore needed funding for education. It won’t take you long to do it, and she needs to hear from people of faith who support public education. By phone: 919-733-4240. By e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2) E-mail your state senator and state representative to call on them to support the restoration of the emergency sales tax increase. People across the state have now had a chance to see what the cuts in funding mean to education. We need not to let our students endure even one more school year of larger classes, fewer instructional personnel, and inaccessible programs.
To find contact information for your legislators while they are not in session, go to the General Assembly website, www.ncleg.net, and click on “House” and “Senate”.