When Senate Republicans release their budget proposal this week, you will likely hear several claims about their commitment to public education that don’t match reality.
For example, they will undoubtedly repeat the tired claim that they are spending more on our public schools than ever before. But when you take inflation and enrollment growth into account, that simply isn’t true. In fact, when you adjust for inflation, state spending on classroom supplies is less than half of what it was before the Great Recession began.
North Carolina ranks 44th in per-student spending, and continues to fall further behind the national average. Currently, our state spends $2,800 less per student than the national average.
“State lawmakers refuse to fully fund our public schools but keep cutting taxes for big corporations and people at the top,” said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC Action. “Our lawmakers need to get their priorities straight and fund education, not corporations. We need lawmakers who will make better choices and prioritize our kids ahead of corporations.”
Since 2013, 80 percent of North Carolina Republican tax cuts have gone to the top 20 percent of taxpayers. Under the Senate’s proposed budget plan, millionaires would get an average tax cut of $20,000 — while most taxpayers who earn less than $20,000 per year would get absolutely nothing.
“Prioritizing handouts for the rich over public education does a disservice to our children, and our entire state,” said Brenner. “Billions of dollars in revenue that could fully fund our public schools has instead been given away as tax cuts to big corporations and people who don’t need them.”
Previous false budget claims made by Senate Republicans include:
- In 2014, Sen. Phil Berger claimed teachers were getting “the largest pay increase in history.” The claim turned out to be completely false, but that didn’t stop Republicans from repeating it ad nauseum during the election season.
- In 2015, Berger touted a modest pay raise for teachers in his budget proposal — but conveniently forgot to mention that he would have paid for the increase by laying off 8,500 teacher assistants across the state.
- In 2016, lawmakers once again made a big claim — saying their teacher pay plan would put the average teacher salary in North Carolina “over $50,000 per year.” Of course, they failed to mention that the $50,000 figure relied on local supplements provided by districts like Wake County, instead of funding the plan from the state level.
- But even when you disingenuously include local supplements, North Carolina’s average teacher salary still isn’t “over $50,000 per year” as Republicans promised. In fact, when you account for inflation, most teachers are making less than they would have before the Great Recession began.
So what bogus claims will politicians make about teacher pay this year? And more importantly, will anyone believe them this time?