For a better budget

June 28, 2012 

Republican lawmakers crafted a $20.2 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, and Gov. Beverly Perdue notes that school districts would have $190 million less to spend for education. That’s one reason the governor has proposed adjustments in the budget (for the second year of a two-year budget passed last year) of a relatively minor but helpful nature. She would have lawmakers dip into reserve funds to add $76 million for schools generally, $10 million for the state pre-kindergarten program and $5 million for tests for kindergarten and pre-K.

She also wants $5 million to compensate victims of the state’s heinous sterilization program for people judged unfit to have children, of whom only about 2,000 are still alive. She also believes lawmakers should add $3.4 million for additional probation officers, a critical need demonstrated by an N&O series showing a lack of supervision of convicted felons that inevitably puts people in danger. And then she wants $600,000 to help North Carolina comply with the Help America Vote Act, money that would draw another $4 million in federal funding to ensure the fairness of the voting system.

All these worthwhile items amount to $100 million out of a $20.2 billion budget. Yet Republican leaders Thom Tillis, speaker of the House, and Phil Berger, president pro tem of the Senate, calmly dismiss the governor’s ideas, merely urging her to sign their new budget quickly. Why not accept them in the spirit in which they were offered – looking for middle ground to avoid what Perdue might feel was a necessary veto? Why spend more time and effort on a veto override?

Perdue hasn’t again asked legislators to pass a sales tax boost, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars, or to do anything radical. She has simply zeroed in on programs that even some Republicans agree with. But once again, Republican leaders put partisanship ahead of the public’s interest.

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