Revisions in the budget

STAFF WRITERJune 1, 2011 

The revised Senate proposal eliminates changes Democrats targeted for heavy criticism.

The State Bureau of Investigation and the state crime lab will remain under the control of the Attorney General's Office. The Senate's previous budget proposal would have moved the SBI to the new Department of Public Safety.

The parent Smart Start office, the N.C. Partnership for Children, is preserved. But the highest administrative salary is capped at $80,000. The highest salary in a local Smart Start office is capped at $60,000.

The Board of Elections and the Ethics Commission will not be combined.

Other changes

A tax cut for small businesses that allows them to exempt the first $50,000 of their income lifts an income cap, making about 200,000 more businesses eligible.

The Golden LEAF Foundation gets to keep $50 million that would have been diverted to the state treasury.

Students who take driver's education classes will pay a $45 fee; the House had proposed $75 and the Senate no fee.

The state gas tax will not be capped, allowing it to rise from 32.5 cents a gallon to at least 35 cents on July 1.Republican lawmakers had said they might take steps to prevent the tax from rising.

Both the Hatteras-Ocracoke and the less busy Currituck-Knotts Island ferries will be toll-free.

Teacher assistants

There are more than 26,000 teacher assistants in North Carolina classrooms. About 18,000 of those positions are state-funded; the rest receive their salaries from local or federal money. The average 10-month salary is $21,000.

The training and experience of teacher assistants varies. State and federal regulations require at least a high school diploma. Individual school districts can require more education. Teacher assistants who work in schools with a large low-income population must have associate's degrees or the equivalent certification.

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