Education

NC Republicans propose $35 million for school safety. Democrats want much more.

Republicans in the legislature proposed spending $35 million next year to improve school safety in response to school mass shootings that have scarred the country and unnerved parents and students.

The Republican proposal is far less than the $130 million plan Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper offered. Republicans said their plan is just a first step.

"We are taking steps to increase the investment," said Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett Republican who helped lead the House school safety committee.

Republicans plan to seek more money from the federal government, through the Medicaid government insurance program, to help pay for mental health and other services.

Rep. Donny Lambeth, a Winston-Salem Republican, said the Medicaid money could add another $30 million to $90 million to the total.

Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said the Republican proposal is inadequate and reflects misguided priorities.

“Legislative Republicans’ misguided priorities are perfectly captured by their plan to fund tax giveaways for the wealthy and corporations while shortchanging youth mental health and school safety. These programs are important and the legislature’s investment is simply not enough to protect our students," Porter said in a statement.

Talk of capturing more Medicaid money amounts to "vague promises of federal dollars in the future," Cooper's office said.

The GOP spending and policy proposals will be included in the budget, which Republicans are handling to prevent any changes or additions.

The GOP proposal did not include gun control measures Cooper and Democrats in the legislature proposed.

Plans to address school safety started after 17 people were killed at Parkland, Fla., high school in February. There have been more school shootings since Parkland. Last week, a student at a Texas high school shot and killed 10 people.

Included in the $35 million is $10 million for mental health personnel. That $10 million will go to schools in the form of grants, meaning they'll only get it once.

Rep. Linda Johnson, a House budget writer, said the state needs to know more about what schools need before the legislature makes a long-term investment.

Bonner: 919-829-4821: @Lynn_Bonner
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