One would think that with control of the governor’s office and both houses of the General Assembly, Republicans would have been able to agree on a state budget by now. But one would be wrong. Very wrong.
Remember when Republicans predicted upon taking control of the General Assembly that they’d move efficiently and avoid all that secrecy and shenanigans Democrats engaged in for 100 years? So what’s up? Secrecy in budget talks, and shenanigans galore, including reorganizing local elections in Greensboro and Wake County regardless of whether residents of those areas wanted the changes.
And now, the Republicans in the House can’t get along with the Republicans in the Senate. Tom Apodaca, the brusque Senate Rules Committee chairman, blames House members for holding up a deal by having public hearings on the differences in the House and Senate budgets. But the hearings wouldn’t be necessary if the Senate hadn’t packed its budget with major policy changes. Meanwhile, GOP legislative leaders have virtually dismissed Gov. Pat McCrory as a leader or even a mediator in the budgeting process.
All this discord means it’s unlikely there will be a budget deal by Aug. 14 when the current temporary budget agreement expires.
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The delay isn’t just a problem of political dysfunction. It has serious consequences for funding public education, and there’s nervousness among school administrators about how long the impasse will continue.
Without a state budget, school administrators don’t know whether they’ll have money for teacher assistants. The House is more inclined to preserve those vital positions, whereas the Senate wants to cut them, something that would have a bad effect on tens of thousands of schoolchildren. Local school leaders also have no firm idea of how many teachers or support staff they can hire until the level of state funding is set.
This is a ridiculous position for school administrators to be in less than a month before classes start. It reflects a failure by some lawmakers to appreciate how their actions affect their constituents.
Worried school administrators and parents should do more than wait. They should make themselves heard and demand that lawmakers act for once as if they understand their responsibilities.