The $500 million is an overstatement. Some also argue that underfunding is not a cut.
But that’s not the end of it.
The current budget funds K-12 education at $8.1 billion. In 2008-2009 – the last Democratic budget before the recession led to freezes and cuts – the budget for K-12 was $7.8 billion.
There are two things to note about that gap. First, the Democrats’ K-12 budget included More at Four, which Republicans have renamed N.C. Pre-K and moved into the Department of Health and Human Services budget.
Second, Democrats put teacher pay raises into a separate budget category, not part of the education budget. Republicans have changed that, so the education budget includes teacher raises. While the current K-12 budget is $300 million more than the 2008-2009 budget, more than $280 million of that is for teacher raises.
Philip Price, the DPI chief financial officer, says the money budgeted for textbooks, instructional supplies, technology, literacy coaches, teacher assistants and the like, has been reduced by $1 billion since 2008-2009.
Also, that 7 percent is an average. Teachers with 5 to 6 years’ experience are seeing the highest raises at 18.5 percent, while teachers with 30 years’ experience will get 0.29 percent raises.
She has veered from the administration’s position at times. In 2009, she supported a proposal by Republican Sen. Richard Burr to prevent the Food and Drug Administration from regulating tobacco products. Last year, she was one of 76 senators who unsuccessfully urged the president to toughen sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear activities. She supports building the Keystone XL pipeline, which the Obama administration keeps delaying.
Hagan has countered by saying she is “the most moderate senator,” based on this year’s ranking by the National Journal, a nonpartisan magazine that covers Congress. It found Hagan the 51st most liberal and 49th most conservative senator, based on an analysis of votes.
It found Hagan the 51st most liberal and 49th most conservative senator, based on an analysis of 2013 votes. Previous rankings found Hagan more liberal.
Some of her bills have been folded into other legislation, as typically happens in Congress. Her AMERICA Works Act, which requires that operators of job-training centers prioritize skills that will lead to nationally recognized credentials that are in demand, was added to a bill that streamlines federal job training. It became law this past summer.
In 2013, she and Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican and one of the Senate’s most conservative members, added an amendment to a budget bill to restore a program that pays tuition, one class at a time, for active-duty service members.
She said as a stand-alone bill, it could have languished. The amendment became law in two weeks.
A federal judge later disallowed the provision. U.S. District Judge James Beaty Jr. said lawmakers had made clear that the denial of funds was intended as political punishment for the organization.
So in 2012 the legislature passed a budget prohibiting state contracts for family planning or pregnancy prevention services. Although not named, Planned Parenthood was the only private entity fitting that description.
Planned Parenthood apparently had the last laugh. In 2012, it applied directly for federal family planning money and won a grant for $426,000 – more than three times the amount the legislature originally withheld.
The 500,000 number comes from estimates at the time the legislature was passing the law. It is based on information from the N.C. Institute of Medicine, provided by the state’s Division of Medical Assistance. A Kaiser Family Foundation report put the estimate lower, 318,000. These are people in low-wage jobs as home health aides, waitresses, bus drivers and construction workers who earn too little to get subsidies and don’t qualify for Medicaid.
Some estimates are as high as 689,000 but are said to include undocumented immigrants, who wouldn’t be eligible, and uninsured adults who are already eligible for Medicaid but haven’t enrolled.
PolitiFact, a nonpartisan fact-checking project, says: “Obamacare does not literally cut funding from the Medicare budget, but tries to bring down future health care costs in the program. Much of this is accomplished by reducing Medicare Advantage, a small subset of Medicare plans that are run by private insurers.”
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the ACA “played an important role in putting Medicare on stronger financial footing.”
Tillis said he supported elements of the budget, particularly the tax changes.
A spokesman says: “He is against making any cuts or changes to Medicare for seniors or those nearing the age of retirement.”
Currently, under the Affordable Care Act, birth control is covered by insurance. Hagan counters that the change, combined with repeal of the ACA that Tillis also calls for, would cost women $483 million a year. That’s the amount paid for contraception covered under Obamacare.
It also created a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who met certain requirements. Hagan voted for it, as did 14 Senate Republicans. But Republicans in the House of Representatives rejected it. The House never took up the broad immigration package that the Senate passed.
Last month, she joined a bipartisan coalition of senators in authorizing airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. She said she supports the military airstrikes in Syria but thinks Congress needs to approve any further escalation.
Tillis said last month that he didn’t know whether the U.S. should arm moderate rebels in Syria. “I would have to know that these arms would not get in the hands of people who would want to take over the Middle East,” he said.
Hagan responded by saying, “I think he’s been spineless about what needs to be done to take out these terrorists.”