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2013 North Carolina State of Agriculture Address - Steve Toxler
State Education Spending: The facts
We’ve all heard the dire predictions about the Republican-passed budget: “They’re going to decimate the whole public education system in this state!” and “This proposed budget will set back this state 25 years!” and “Cuts near this magnitude will dramatically eviscerate the ability of this state to provide a constitutionally-sound education to all of the students of our state!”
Do those claims sound familiar? They should — they’re from over two years ago. On February 24, 2011, Democrat representatives Mickey Michaux, Rick Glazier, and Ray Rapp all clucked that under the Republican budget, the sky was falling. Former Governor Perdue, for her part, warned that 20,000 teachers would be fired, class size would double, and the Republican budget would “result in generational damage” to North Carolina’s public schools.
But none of it happened.
Not only were all our teaching positions fully funded, but according to the Department of Public Instruction’s own figures, North Carolina’s public schools actually added 3,198 state-funded education jobs this school year — and 7,811 total teaching jobs since Republicans have held the majority in the General Assembly. And significant education reforms enacted over the last two years have already begun bearing fruit: last year, North Carolina’s high school graduation rate surpassed 80 percent – a first in the state’s history and a 12-point jump from six years ago.
It’s shameful how the hyper-partisan teachers union — the largest and most organized group of paid lobbyists in the state — and their mouthpieces in the media continue to scare hard-working teachers and parents with wild claims that never seem to materialize. Let’s cut through the wild rhetoric and look at the facts.
House, Senate Conclude Historic 2013 Session
Raleigh, N.C. – After a highly productive legislative long session, the North Carolina General Assembly concluded its substantive business early Friday morning after passing many long-overdue reforms to improve North Carolina’s public schools, rebuild our economy and restore our place as a leader in job growth and prosperity.
“Last fall, North Carolinians overwhelmingly elected a Republican governor and legislative supermajorities for the first time since the 19th century, entrusting us to strengthen our schools, reform our tax code, provide tax relief and empower the private sector to create jobs,” said Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham). “Despite fierce resistance and overblown partisan rhetoric from the left, we did exactly what millions of voters asked us to do.”
“We have worked tirelessly over the course of six months to enact reforms critical to providing greater opportunities to our state’s citizens,” said House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg). “We lived within our means to provide a fiscally responsible and economically sustainable budget, enacted a comprehensive tax reform plan to bring financial relief to all North Carolinians, and eliminated burdensome regulations to promote economic development in our state.”
Among other actions, the General Assembly:
• Implemented comprehensive tax reform that will provide major tax relief to all North Carolina families and make our state more attractive to job-creating businesses. Following decades of Democratic governance, North Carolina had the highest taxes in the Southeast. We passed a tax reform plan that simplifies the state’s 1930s Depression-era tax code, cuts personal and corporate income tax rates, eliminates the death tax and ends dozens of loopholes for special interests. The reforms will make our economy competitive and immediately move North Carolina from the bottom of national rankings to the 17th best business tax climate in America.
• Adopted a balanced, fiscally responsible state budget that invests in core services, streamlines state government, strengthens public education and grows North Carolina’s economy. Our budget safeguards North Carolina’s long-term fiscal health and offers close to a 2.5 percent increase in overall spending while cutting taxes for all North Carolinians. It spends approximately $7.9 billion on K-12 education – $163 million, or 2.1 percent, more than school districts spent last year.
• Passed major education reforms to strengthen student literacy, improve graduation rates, reward effective teachers and give parents tools to make better informed decisions about their children’s education. We increased accountability in the classroom by employing teachers through contracts that are renewed based on job performance. And we continued our commitment to implementing a pay for excellence system by including $10.2 million to fund annual pay raises for the most effective teachers.
• Passed sweeping changes to the state’s burdensome regulatory environment. The Regulatory Reform Act of 2013 will get rid of red tape that chokes off economic growth and make our state a more attractive place to do business.
• Approved bipartisan legislation to spur our economy by tapping into North Carolina's abundant energy resources. The Domestic Energy Jobs Act is a comprehensive energy bill that paves the way for a flourishing onshore and offshore energy sector.
• Improved our investment in North Carolina’s transportation infrastructure. Our changes to the North Carolina Highway Trust Fund will allow us to accelerate transportation projects across the state, in every region and in our local communities – a move that is expected to create at least 260 projects and more than 240,000 jobs over the next 10 years, according to the state Department of Transportation.
• Invested in our state’s rural communities by launching a new, accountable Rural Economic Development Division within the state Department of Commerce. And we upheld our commitment to ensuring accountability in state government by ending the blatant misuse of tax dollars at the N.C. Rural Center.
• Passed major health care reform legislation to improve medical billing fairness and transparency, reduce health care costs and help consumers make better-informed decisions about their treatment.
• Reformed our broken unemployment insurance program, setting a pathway for repaying North Carolina’s $2.5 billion debt to the federal government – brought about by years of mismanagement by previous Democratic leaders. Under our plan, we’ll be out of debt by 2016 – freeing up capital and providing certainty for businesses to create jobs. Our changes will make North Carolina’s unemployment system solvent and remove one of the biggest impediments to job creation and economic growth.
• Passed a hugely popular, common-sense provision that requires North Carolinians to show a photo ID when they vote. Polls show that nearly three-quarters of North Carolina residents support requiring voters to show photo ID before voting. Our action brought North Carolina in line with the majority of other states that already require voter ID.
• Protected the Second Amendment rights of North Carolinians. The Senate passed legislation to expand the number of places that people with a concealed carry permit can carry firearms to protect themselves and their families – while also strengthening safety measures for the public and penalties for criminals who violate our gun laws.
• Ensured justice for more than 100 North Carolina families whose loved ones’ lives were brutally taken by passing a bill to end the de-facto moratorium on the death penalty in North Carolina.
Diffusion of responsibility is a term used to describe behavior in which people do not take action or feel a sense of personal responsibility due to the presence of a large group of people. In short we expect someone else will do what is required and necessary. But, in the end, no one does anything and nothing gets done. Do not let this happen. Do your part. Get involved now!
Week 2's top caller with 611 calls- Quickly becoming JoCo's super star volunteer, Gabe Johnson! Not only is Gabe the record holder for calls in a day (602), but he has been rewarded for his efforts with a personal congratulatory phone call from NJ Governor Chris Christie!
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