Where House-Senate diverge
Here are some of the key differences between the House and Senate plans.
The House budget provides money for a new voucher program and restores some teacher programs that were on the Senate chopping block. The cut in teacher assistants would be much less severe than proposals from Gov. Pat McCrory and the Senate. The budget keeps class-size limits in kindergarten through third grades.
The House plan provides $10 million the first year, rising to $40 million in 2014-15, for what supporters call “opportunity scholarships” for low-income families to send their children to private schools. It would cut $12 million from the public schools the first year and $36 million the second, assuming that families would take advantage of the $4,200-a-year scholarships.
The House proposal would reinstate the Teaching Fellows program, which provides college scholarships to top students who go into teaching in North Carolina. The program was being phased out, but the House proposal would recruit a new class of fellows beginning in 2014-15. It would phase out supplements for teachers based on graduate degrees, except for those who need an advanced degree for their licenses.
Other K-12 highlights:
• Cuts $12 million the first year, growing to $36 million in 2014-15 to account for the loss of students who would use vouchers to attend private schools
• Spends $10 million next year and $40 million in 2014-15 for students to attend private schools
• Keeps the current school district flex cut in place at $376 million next year and reduces it to $368 million in 2014-15
• Reduces teacher assistant funding by 4 percent ($25 million) in 2013-14 and 5 percent ($29 million) in 2015-16, funding assistants in K-3 classrooms based on student headcount
• Phases out salary supplements for teachers who earn advanced degrees, cutting nearly $19 million in 2014-15
• Spends nearly $19 million in 2013-14 and $5 million to carry out changes proposed in reform package
Funds the ACT testing program with $7.5 million
• Reduces funding for school bus replacement by $30 million next year and $39 million in 2014-15 by changing the standards for when buses are replaced
Provides $690,000 to buy safety cameras to deter school bus stop arm violators
• Spends $10 million for school safety officers in elementary and middle schools, and $2 million to install panic alarms in public schools
• Provides $2.5 million for a pilot program of grants for innovations in education
• Spends $1.5 million next year and $16 million to defray student fees and give bonuses to teachers for students completing Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.
Provides $320,000 for the state’s Office of Charter Schools and cuts Department of Public Instruction by $520,000
• Gives Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina $464,100 in each year of the two-year budget to administer a grant program to develop 12 rural charter schools
• Provides $500,000 for Teach for America
• Mandates a cut of $125 million next year and $67 million in 2014-15, substantially more than the Senate proposed. The cuts would be decided by the campuses but cannot be taken across the board.
• Diverts students from the UNC system to the Community College System, reducing the UNC budget by $12.6 million in 2014-15.
• Increases tuition 12.3 percent for out-of-state students at UNC School of the Arts, N.C. A&T State, N.C. State, UNC Charlotte, UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC Wilmington. At other campuses, the increase would be 6 percent for out-of-state students. The increases would take effect in 2014-15 and are similar to those proposed by Gov. Pat McCrory. The Senate did not increase tuition.
• Provides new funding for UNC’s planned strategic initiatives, including: $6 million to increase degree earners; $3.4 million for research next year, rising to $22 million in 2014-15; $5 million next year to improve academic quality; $2 million next year to streamline operations.
• Cuts $10 million next year and $15 million in 2014-15 in administrative and operational efficiencies
• Cuts $16 million next year and $21 million in 2014-15 in instructional efficiencies, including changes in class size and improved transferability of course credits.
• Cuts $1.9 million in 2014-15 in savings from eliminating or consolidating duplicative academic programs.
Eliminates a $15 million reserve for the UNC School of Medicine.
• Phases out the UNC tuition grant for graduates of the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics.
• Reduces by $3 million a revolving loan program for teachers who seek National Board Certification.
• Provides an additional $3 million for UNC-need based grant fund
• Modifies funding formula, shifting it from a three-year enrollment average to a two-year average, resulting in a $20 million reduction and a one-time funding of $550,000 to phase in the reduction for colleges most affected.
• Creates NC Guaranteed Admission Program, shifting some UNC admitted students with lowest qualifications to community colleges for the first two years of college. An enrollment reserve of $4 million would be available to community colleges in 2014-15.
Increases tuition by $2.50 per credit hour to $71.50 per credit hour for residents and $263.50 for nonresidents. Increases fees for continuing education by $5 per course.
• Eliminates tuition waiver for senior citizens, saving $970,000
• Partially restores previous reductions with $9 million next year and $12 million in 2014-15.
• Diverts some regular funding, $7.5 million for curriculum programs and $1.5 million for continuing education, to a pool to reward good performance at colleges.
• Provides $10 million for equipment next year
• Cuts $2 million in customized training
• Reduces travel in the Community College System office by $120,000 and eliminates the audit service division, including seven jobs
• Provides additional $4.5 million in need-based scholarships for private college students
Justice and public safety
• The House splits from the Senate by leaving the State Bureau of Investigation in the state Department of Justice. The House would, however, take the state crime lab away from the SBI by moving it into a separate part of the department, making a clear distinction between law enforcement and forensic analysis of evidence. Both would remain under the control of the attorney general.
The Senate budget moves the SBI into the state Department of Public Safety, which is led by a political appointee of the governor’s.
• The House spares the 12 special superior court judges targeted for elimination in the Senate. This has been a sticking point between the two chambers since the House removed it from a Senate bill earlier this year.
• The big-ticket item is spending $25 million to upgrade the state highway patrol’s communications system. Another $7 million would be spent over three years to complete construction of 29 towers for the system, known as VIPER. Three communications centers would be closed and 18 telecommunicators transferred.
• Closes prisons in Duplin, Robeson and Wayne counties, the Western Youth Institution and the North Piedmont Correctional Center for Women, but spares the Orange and Bladen county prisons, which are also closed under the Senate budget. It would convert the Johnston Correctional Institution from medium security to minimum custody. And it closes youth detention facilities in Lenoir, Richmond and Buncombe counties.
Other public safety highlights
• Eliminates 1,537 positions, mainly due to prison and detention center closings. Makes reductions totaling $59 million over two years.
• Rejects the Senate’s proposal to eliminate the state’s $2.89 million contract with Prisoner Legal Services, and instead cuts its budget by 10 percent to reflect the declining prison population.
• Allocates $4 million to Indigent Defense Services to pay private attorneys.
• Saves $5 million in each of the next two years in the Department of Public Safety by identifying continued savings from the consolidation of public safety, juvenile justice and adult correction last year.
• Spends $850,000 in each of the next two years to upgrade the badly deteriorated state National Guard centers.
• Budgets all 69 vacant state trooper positions.
Health and Human Services
• Keeps open the state’s three alcohol and drug treatment centers and the Wright School for children with severe emotional and behavioral problems. The Senate voted to close those.
• Keeps the oral health section at the state Department of Health and Human Services, which the Senate eliminated.
• Uses $24.8 million in lottery money to add 5,000 slots to N.C. Pre-K. Income eligibility would be lowered to 130 percent of the federal poverty level. It’s now at about 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The Senate transfers 2,500 pre-school slots to the child care subsidy program.
• Keeps pregnant women eligible for Medicaid in the government health insurance program. The Senate moves pregnant women with incomes above 133 percent of federal poverty level off Medicaid and into health insurance plans purchased from an exchange set up under the Affordable Care Act.
The House budget provides $8 million in short-term assistance for people with mental disabilities living in group homes.
Other Health and Human Services highlights:
• Spends $434 million to adjust Medicaid budget for inflation and changes in enrollment.
• Cuts $15.2 million in administrative funds from local mental health offices.
• Spends $11.5 million to outfit Broughton Hospital, the new state psychiatric hospital in Morganton.
• Cuts $3.7 million by limiting doctors’ visits for adults on Medicaid to 10 each year, down from 22, beginning Jan. 1. People with chronic illness are exempt.
Closes four of the 16 Child Development Service Agencies.
Commerce and Environment
• The House fully funds the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, an independent nonprofit created by the state, at $16.6 million in the coming fiscal year and increases the funding the following year. McCrory proposed reducing the center’s funds and the Senate wants to defund it and transfer its functions to the state government.
• Both the House and Senate proposals cut funding for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the agency that provides amenities for North Carolina’s hunters, boater and outdoorsmen. But while the Senate wants to cut $9 million a year from commission, the House would cut $4 million in year one and half as much the next year.
Other Commerce and Environment highlights:
• Like the Senate’s proposal creates four staff positions to assist the N.C. Mining & Energy Commission, which is writing regulations to govern fracking.
• Funds the Clean Water Management Trust Fund at $4 million the first year and $9 million the following year. The Senate version dismantles the fund and transfers its functions to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
• Eliminates funding for the N.C. Biofuels Center, Community Development Initiative, Council on Governments, Institute of Minority Economic Development, Indian Economic Development Initiative and Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine.