The federal government is still embroiled in its debate over the budget, and it’s the same at the state level. Governors are presenting radical budgets aimed at pulling their states out of the red. In some cases they have the majority behind them, ready to move forward on legislation that will inevitably cripple their constituents in the process.
The scenario is no different in North Carolina. Just this week Representative Beverly Earle (D-Mecklenburg) sent a notification out to her constituents alerting them of what the North Carolina House and Senate are thinking in the way of budget cuts.
In a detailed memo to her district and any who would heed her warnings, Earle detailed the drastic cuts and measures being tossed about as possibilities.
North Carolina’s House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees received spending targets that set an overall spending cap on budget areas such as Education, Justice and Public Safety. Accompanying the spending targets was general guidance to the subcommittees to focus on core services and to jettison or reduce ineffective programs, nonprofit funds, boards and commissions, vacant or temporary positions, and layers of management.
What does all of that mean? It means North Carolinians could potentially look forward to a year in which education will receive $763 million less in funding. That’s 11% less than last year, and programs like More at Four and Smart Start face consolidation or elimination. Teachers, of course, can expect a reduction in pay and even university enrollment could be capped. These proposed cuts run afoul of the Obama Administration’s mantra of investing in our kid’s futures.
The subcommittees are also looking to slash funding to Health and Human Services to the tune of $379 million, less than what Governor Bev Perdue set out in her proposed budget. If this passes, North Carolinians can expect to see community health centers close.
Rounding out suggestions to slash the state budget without regard for the needs of citizens, the current budget being proposed for North Carolina will include provisions consolidating Corrections, Juvenile Justice & Crime Control and Public Safety into a combined Dept of Public Safety. The thought of first time juvenile offenders being dealt with under the same umbrella as hardened repeat offenders is mind boggling. It seems like a recipe for disaster. All in the name of cutting the budget.
Representative Earle’s memo includes a notice that the Governor recently vetoed a bill that would have forced North Carolina to give up federal money for health care programs like Medicaid and children’s health care programs, and another bill that would have hurt the state’s economic development efforts. In a move that can’t be explained, the House in turn considered two veto overrides. Earle and other House Democrats united in order to squash the federal health care funds effort, but were unable to stop the veto override in the case of economic development.
Earle said of the vote,
The losing side in the health care veto fight has announced its intentions to use a parliamentary procedure to bring the [federal health care funds] bill back up for consideration, using up more of the time we should be spending on creating jobs and opportunity for people in North Carolina.
It’s important that representatives do as Representative Beverly Earle has and continue to keep voters abreast of what is really going on at the state capital. Voters, too, must stay informed and become more actively engaged in addressing the issues that so dramatically shape our nation’s social and economic well being.