Editor's note: As the legislative debate intensifies, the claims and counter-claims are flying. Over the next several weeks, The News & Observer will sort out the truth.
The claim: The House Republican budget would result in 30,000 jobs being cut.
Who made it: Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue in a speech at a Democratic fundraiser over the weekend. "We are about to see the largest public layoff in North Carolina and maybe in American history," Perdue said. The same 30,000 figure has been used by House Democratic Whip Deborah Ross and by Senate Democratic leader Martin Nesbitt.
Is it true?: The Republican House budget would result in major layoffs, but Perdue appears to have been playing to her political audience. The number is squishy because it's unclear how local school boards will handle their budget cuts. The House budget often pushes the cuts down to local school boards or state agencies with budget targets for them to make. This time, it requires $42.1 million in additional savings spread out among the 115 districts. But the House Republican caucus puts the loss of jobs at 18,000 (with nearly 3,000 of those positions already vacant) - in part on the basis of early informal estimates by the legislature's Fiscal Research staff. The N.C. Budget & Tax Center, a liberal advocacy group, also estimates 18,000 positions cut.
The Governor's Office provided a breakdown that adds up to more than 26,000 positions cut - including 18,330 in the public schools, nearly 3,000 in the University of North Carolina system, 1,392 in the community college system and nearly 4,000 in other state agencies.
Chrissy Pearson, the governor's spokeswoman, said that when trickle-down jobs such as Medicare providers and local government jobs are considered the cuts will exceed 30,000. She also believes that all the job losses have not yet been spelled out because some of the GOP budget cuts do not specify where the savings will come from but will likely result in job losses.
The estimated 18,330 job cuts in secondary and elementary education, however, are open to question. The figure was provided by the Department of Public Instruction and is described by officials there as a conservative estimate. But it includes 5,550 positions that are already vacant and are being carried over to the new budget in "a negative reserve." They are not new positions being eliminated. Exclude those positions and the positions cut in education are 12,780.
The upshot: Large-scale layoffs are definitely in the offing. Nobody knows the exact number at this point. But there is little evidence that they will be as large as the governor and other Democrats suggest.
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