Republicans in North Carolina’s State Senate have released a plan to enable school construction and renovations to be approved without voter approval. This plan comes from North Carolina State Senators Harry Brown, Kathy Harrington and Joyce Krawiec from Onslow County, Gaston County and Forsyth County respectively.
The North Carolina General Assembly is currently considering how to go about securing future funds for schools and renovations. One alternative proposal has been suggested by North Carolina’s Speaker of the House, a Republican legislator named Tim Moore, who represents District 111. His proposal is to create a $1.9 billion bond referendum and this proposal has been backed by the governor of North Carolina Roy Cooper.
Part of the reason why Brown backs this instead of the other Republican sponsored piece of legislation, is that with this he says there are no interest payments, and that with this it’s possible to spend greater amounts of money where decision makers would like it to be spent.
“Gov. Cooper is pushing for a bond to fund school construction and renovation without forcing harmful cuts in other areas, and he will work with legislators and review their proposals to see if they accomplish that goal,” said the Governor’s Press Secretary Ford Porter when approached for a comment.
One of the biggest differences between the two pieces of legislation and what they propose is not just how it’s approved, but also the dollar amount. The plan from the North Carolina State Senate is substantially smaller both now and even at its potential height. The plan on that could soon go to the Senate floor, has been said to reach a potential height of one billion dollars, but the plan proposed by the Speaker of the House has nearly twice that amount at $1.9 billion. That is a significant difference when it comes to both the sort of work that could be done, and the amount of work that could be done by either proposal.
If the proposal by the Senators is what passes both the Senate and the House of Representatives and is signed by the Governor, what would happen in terms of priority spending would be determined by need. Local school districts that can prove they need the support would be the first to benefit from the funds. This method of deciding order has gotten support from other elected officials such as North Carolina’s Superintendent Mark Johnson, who said that there was a need for this in a statement. He also indicated that he hopes to be included in future discussions on this topic saying that he, “looks forward to working with our partners in the General Assembly as we continue to discuss the details of that funding.”
One source of criticism for the proposal comes from school leaders and administrators who point out that as this piece of legislation is right now there’s no funding for improvements necessary to reduce the size of early education classes, a requirement stemming from a state mandate.
State universities and community colleges would receive $2 billion under this and funding from various agencies.