The NC General Assembly’s Ploy to Pass the Burden of Funding State School Mandates to Local Systems

Remember when Sen. Chad Barefoot said this in February of 2017 concerning House Bill 13?

For years, the General Assembly has been sending tens of millions of dollars to districts for new classroom teachers for the purpose of lowering classroom sizes,” he said. “The question we keep asking over and over again is, ‘What did they do with the money? …The data that we have received from the districts varies, and some districts did not fully respond to our information request. What some of the data has shown is that there are districts that did not reduce class sizes with the funding we sent them. Why are they holding art and PE teachers’ jobs hostage for their misallocation of classroom teacher funds?” (http://www.wral.com/law-reducing-class-size-has-music-art-pe-teachers-anxious-about-future-/16628678/).

House Bill 13 concerned the “class size mandate.” Even Phil Berger and Tim Moore said it had been “funded,” but neither could point to a line item in the budget for it.

A one-year reprieve was established but it will make its way back into the political landscape soon, probably in a special session called for one matter but is really meant to pass secretly crafted legislation.

With the exiting tax cuts slated in the 2018-2019 budget never debated or amended, corporate tax rates will again drop and with a push to lower the cap of income tax rates (TABOR) during certain times, what the NCGA seems to be doing is making sure that it does not have the revenue needed to fully fund social services like public education. Throw in the “surplus” in the “rainy-day” fund, the growth of revenue does not meet the demand for funds to adequately.

Look at the following:

GDP

GDP data is from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Spending is from the Digest of Educational Statistics, Table 236.25 (https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d17/tables/dt17_236.25.asp) – assist from Kris Nordstrom.

So, less money in relation to need is being spent and state-enforced initiatives like the class size mandate and other endeavors like charter school growth but a need to finance such things and we get… pass the burden to localities.

Nestled in the last few pages of the surreptitiously crafted and secretly negotiated budget is Section 38.8.

propertytax

That’s the place where the NCGA was able to put in a way for local property taxes to be used in funding of local schools within city limits. As Billy Ball reported on May 30th,

No, the real stunner came in a three-page provision starting on page 257 that authorizes North Carolina municipalities to spend property tax revenues on any public school that “benefits the residents of the city,” including charter schools. It’s a massive, and little debated, overhaul of the state’s longtime funding method that has the potential to drastically alter K-12 funding, and not for the better, advocates say (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2018/05/30/education-budget-shocker-could-alter-the-fundamentals-of-nc-school-funding/).

Think about something like the class size mandate. This provision could now be used by the state to absolve itself from “funding” certain initiatives and say that the localities can use their property taxes to raise the funds.

It also opens the door up for God-knows what else.

Fighting to make sure funding is there for state mandates may now be done in each LEA rather than in Raleigh.

Seems the urban / rural divide may get bigger. And it’s intentional.

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