Perdue to renew call for sales tax hike

NC Governor Beverly Perdue (Steve Helber)
May 9, 2012 3:33:52 PM PDT
Sources within Governor Beverly Perdue's administration said Wednesday she will renew her call for a three-quarter cent increase in the state sales tax to support North Carolina schools when she sends her state budget proposal to the General Assembly.

The sources said Perdue's plan would raise $760 million in the first budget year. She would distribute $562 million to K-12 schools, $145 million to public universities, $53 million to community colleges, and $25 million to North Carolina pre-K programs.

In a PowerPoint presentation obtained by ABC11, the administration says the legislature needed to allocate $7.92 billion to continue last year's K-12 services in 2011-12, but fell short by nearly half a billion. While federal funding helped shield North Carolina schools from the full effect of the cuts, the Perdue administration maintains students still suffered because there were fewer teachers.

Click here to read the presentation (.pdf)

Administration sources said the situation will worsen next year as federal funding is reduced.

Perdue's theme for her budget will be "Investing in our future." She plans to focus on not only education, but jobs and the military.

"The pain that we're currently feeling and the extent to which things will get worse next year is the argument for increasing our investment," explained Perdue spokesperson John Romano.

When Perdue first suggested the sales tax hike in January, Republicans in the General Assembly called the idea "dead on arrival."

"Governor Perdue continues to show that she is out of touch with North Carolinians and lacks a basic understanding of our economy.  Her proposal, which would raise the state portion of the sales tax by an estimated 15%, would make it harder for working families to purchase prepared food, clothing, medical supplies and other basic necessities to support an extreme agenda for larger government. That is completely unacceptable," offered Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, (R) Rockingham.

Of the $562 million Perdue wants to allocate to K-12 schools, $503 million would be specifically allocated for classroom spending on teachers and teacher assistants.

The administration estimates that would save or create 11,000 education positions (based on how school systems have responded to cuts in the past). 1,700 of  the positions would be in grades 1-3.  The average classroom ratio in grades 1-3 would go from 1 teacher to 17 students to 1 to 16. The average classroom ratio in kindergarten would go from 1 to 18 to 1 to 17.

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