Legislators failed
the state’s students

Published 1:32 pm Saturday, August 22, 2009

By Staff
When it comes to State Budgets 101, this year’s N.C. General Assembly deserves a failing grade.
Anytime the Legislature approves a state budget that forces the state’s public-school systems to cut their budgets but there were other ways to balance the state budget without doing so on the backs of the school systems — and the students they serve — that’s failure on the part of the Legislature to do its job properly.
The General Assembly, as part of its budget work, cut the public-schools budget by $225 million. Under the new state budget, public education statewide will see a 4.8 percent, or $1.8 billion, cut in its budget from last year.
Legislators will tell you that in this economy, every facet of state government, including education, must bear its share of the burden when it comes to balancing the state budget. On the surface that makes sense; everyone is treated the same. Well, maybe not.
Beaufort County Schools officials are looking for ways to trim about $1.1 million from its budget for the school year that begins Tuesday. That’s a significant hit for a small school system. Things may get worse. Another round of budget cuts may be required come December, school officials said.
If the Legislature would focus on eliminating wasteful spending — and there’s plenty of it in state government, if one looks for it — and do something about that waste, legislators should be able to make smaller cuts to the public-education budget. Beaufort County Schools would be much better off having to make $500,000 in cuts instead of $1.1 million in cuts.
As most students know, taking the easy way out in the classroom usually results in poor grades. Legislators took an easy way out with the state budget, especially when it comes to funding schools. Raising taxes and making cuts in public education won’t sit well with many state residents.
Look for those residents to use the voting booth during the next elections for seats in the General Assembly to grade their legislators’ performances.
Legislators’ report cards should have an “F” and a notation that they don’t work well together when it comes to funding public schools.