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State Legislature Adjourns Until April Without Approving Public School Funding

Elizabeth Yelverton | NCASA Legal Affairs & Policy Manager

Members of the North Carolina General Assembly voted on Tuesday to adjourn until April 28, after Republicans were unable to secure enough support from Democrats to successfully override the Governor’s veto of the state budget. While legislators successfully passed a bill expanding scholarships for children of veterans, they were unsuccessful in overriding vetoed bills regarding educator pay and regulatory reform. Republican leadership tabled H966, the vetoed state budget package, in hopes they could revisit the override vote in the spring after securing more support. Meanwhile, school districts across the state expressed concern over dwindling budgets and their inability to support their students and staff without any new state funding. In response to these concerns, the North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA) released a public statement (left), urging state leadership to take quick action to fund our public schools.

Shortly before the General Assembly officially reconvened on Tuesday afternoon, both Democrats and Republicans held press conferences outlining their remaining concerns and strategies moving forward. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) was the first to announce that a budget veto override was unlikely, as he had been informed that all Senate Democrats planned to vote to sustain the Governor’s veto. Sen. Berger noted that a new budget proposal for the second year of the legislative biennium was also unlikely, and that it was possible there may not be another comprehensive state budget package until 2021.

During the Democrats’ press conference, Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D-Wake) reiterated his disappointment with the vetoed state budget package, especially regarding pay and benefits for educators, retirees, and non-certified school personnel. Sen. Blue noted that Democrats were willing to negotiate an educator pay package separately from Medicaid expansion, which has remained one of Governor Cooper’s top priorities since taking office.

While many educators were hoping Tuesday’s session would finally release critical education funding, it seems as though public schools will have to wait until the end of April to see if the legislature will revisit the budget veto override, or propose an entirely new education mini-budget. In the meantime, NCASA will continue to advocate on behalf of school leaders and their students, as we urge lawmakers to quickly finalize a public school pay raise and funding package.

Elizabeth Yelverton