3/20/12 Governor wants more education funds

Governor wants more education funds
The Associated Press, The Times-News 3/20/12     
Reprinted with permission.

   RALEIGH — Gov. Beverly Perdue on Monday called on Republican legislative leaders to work with her to restore spending cuts in public education even as she labeled them and their actions “extreme.”

   The Democrat, who announced recently that she would not seek re-election, is starting two weeks of public appearances to drum up support for more public school funding. In addition to restoring spending cuts, she said she wants to prevent even deeper holes for local school districts this fall.

   She said lawmakers can’t ignore the end of $258 million in federal grant money that local school districts used to hire more than 5,400 school personnel this year.

   “This is the year that there has to be a plan,” Perdue said outside the old Capitol building before heading to Charlotte for the first event. “They can’t just do more cutting. It’s extreme ... it’s near-sighted because this is a state that’s built its brand on the fact that we believe in education, we invest in education.”

   But Perdue’s call did not get an enthusiastic response from GOP lawmakers who control the General Assembly. She’s sticking to her proposal to raise the sales tax by three-quarters of a penny to generate about $800 million a year, an idea that Republicans have said will be dead on arrival when it’s officially presented in her budget proposal for next year.    Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said Perdue is the one who’s been unwilling to compromise and work with the Legislature since Republicans captured a majority in the 2010 elections.

   “The governor’s press conference is a classic example of her ‘gotcha’ approach to public policy formulation,” said House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, adding that she acknowledged not having consulted with legislative leaders before Monday. “This stunt is another example of her failure to lead.”

   The budget that begins July 1 also would require local school districts to return an additional $74 million to the state on top of $429 million of state funding already being returned as a costcutting measure initiated by Democrats in 2009. The General Assembly will return to work in mid-May to adjust that budget, which was approved last year.