Senator Gladys A. Robinson Deputy Minority Leader 6.22.2017
2017 - 2018 Session
Standing or Select Committees
It is my pleasure to serve as your voice in Raleigh. Thank you for the opportunity to represent your concerns in the State Senate. Please feel free to contact my office if you should have any issues or concerns.
Appropriations on Health and Human Services
Appropriations Base Budget
Education/ Higher Education
Select Committee on Nominations
Gladys A. Robinson
Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight
Joint Legislative Education Oversight
Joint Legislative Oversight Health and Human Services
Joint Legislative Oversight on Justice and Public Safety
Legislative Updates North Carolina’s Compromise Budget North Carolina state lawmakers unveiled a compromise budget package Monday that bundles a new round of teacher pay raises amid steep cuts for the state’s top K-12 agency and support for school choice favorites like vouchers and education savings accounts. The $23 billion spending plan moved swiftly through the Senate and House and is on the Governor’s desk. Some of the deal’s most controversial provisions are likely to emerge in its public education provisions, which include unpopular reforms to the school performance grading system and rapid expansion of the private school voucher program without the accountability requirements included in the House budget passed last month. Some of the top public school components of the legislature’s budget deal:
Teacher pay: Includes an average 0.6% raise in first year, which Republicans said is 3.3%. In its inclusion of raises for most steps on the salary scale (with the biggest raises bound for teachers on steps 17-24), the plan is closer to the House salary schedule than the Senate’s proposal, which focused its raises on mid-career teachers. GOP budget writers say their goal is to reach average pay of $55,000 by 2020. At this rate it will take 6 years to reach the national average. School districts’ central offices: The budget includes a 7 percent cut to the state’s central office allotment for school districts in the first year, and an 11 percent cut in the second year, both a modest reduction from the Senate’s earlier proposal. Textbooks and classroom supplies: Amid myriad plans for boosting the state’s oft-criticized funding for classroom supplies, the conference committee emerged with a fairly conservative proposal, allocating about $11.2 million in a non-recurring boost to the allotment in the coming year. No funds were allocated for teacher supplies. The Governor had recommended $150 per teacher for supplies. Vouchers: As expected, the legislature retains a $10 million annual expansion of the socalled Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides public funds for low-income children to attend private schools. The program, which is slotted for $44.8 million in funding in 2017-2018, is a lightning rod for public school defenders, who point out private schools lack the same accountability and non-discrimination requirements of public schools.
Children with disabilities: One of the few bright spots of earlier budget proposals, according to some education advocates, the compromise increases the funding cap for children with disabilities, slotting another $6.3 million in recurring funds. Teaching Fellows: The plan, as expected, uses $6 million in cash from the state’s Education Endowment Fund to fund a new version of the teacher scholarship plan, which was controversially scrapped by GOP lawmakers when they took control. Eastern N.C. STEM: The deal restores funding for a summer science, math and technology program that’s primarily served low-income, black youth in eastern parts of the state.
Other Budget Cuts Initially, there was a proposed $4 million reduction to the UNC School of Law in the Senate budget, which ended up as a $500,000 cut in the final agreement. The final budget spitefully cuts almost a million dollars out of the office of Gov. Roy Cooper while giving Lt. Gov. Dan Forest a new administrative position and funding 10 new positions for the new Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson. It cuts many necessary positions from Attorney General Josh Stein’s office. The budget does not include a mean-spirited proposal by the Senate to deny food benefits to 133,000 low-income North Carolinians but the final agreement does end the funding stream for legal services for low-income people, a stunning decision that was never openly discussed in a committee or on the House or Senate floor. A $1,000 one-time bonus for state workers and a one percent cost of living increase for state retirees, which is not much to celebrate.
The budget cuts the corporate and personal incomes taxes again, giving yet another windfall to the wealthy and also increases the standard deduction, a clumsy attempt to spread out the tax cuts to low-income people who would be far better served by restoring and expanding the state Earned Income Tax Credit that lawmakers abolished a few years ago
More tax cuts in the final budget builds onto tax cuts in recent years that have reduced available General Fund revenue. Tax cuts in the final budget largely begin in the second year of the budget and will reduce annual revenue by $521 million for FY19. The full cost of the tax cuts – reflected by the loss of annual available revenue – is not reflected in the final budget because the tax cuts will only be in place for the second half of FY19. Accordingly, the cost of the tax cuts will be higher than the $521 million price tag included in the budget, meaning a further reduction in available revenue for public investments in the years beyond the two-year budget. AS REPORTED BY NC POLICY WATCH
Guilford County Updates
NC A&T State University received $2.5 million towards the $10 million most research doctoral institutions have received in our state. Senator Robinson continues to urge the NC Legislature to fund NC A&T equitably to other research doctoral universities. Senator Robinson made comments on the Senate floor, highlighting the disparities in education funding that could be solved with the funds squirreled away in reserves and tax cuts given to the wealthy and corporations who have not made this request. The Legislature is expected to adjourn by the end of June. If you wish to unsubscribe to this newsletter, please click here Senator Robinsonâ€™s Office Contact Information 1120 Legislative Building
Office: (919) 715-3042
16 W Jones St.
Fax: (919) 733-2599
Raleigh, NC 27601