Durham holds town meeting to discuss state budget

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State Democrats had sharp words for Republicans during a town hall discussion with parents and educators in Durham over the State Lawmakers' budget proposal. (WTVD)

State Democrats had sharp words for Republicans during a town hall discussion with parents and educators in Durham over the State Lawmakers' budget proposal.

The Senate's budget, which passed its first votes on Thursday, includes a nearly $1 billion tax cut.

READ MORE: SENATE GIVES TENTATIVE OK TO 2-YEAR STATE BUDGET

The meeting was held Saturday, at the Holton Career and Resource Center, to discuss the impact the proposal could have on the school system.

"The Republican Party sees teachers as part of the problem and the Democratic Party sees teachers as our primary solution," said Rep. Graig Meyer who represents Orange and Durham Counties.

"The Republican majority in the legislature, unfortunately, doesn't have a commitment to public education as we know it," stated Sen. Floyd McKissick of Durham.

Under the current $22.9 billion Senate budget proposal, $600 million dollars more will be added toward public education over the next two years.

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But critics believe the spending plan doesn't compare to Governor Roy Cooper's proposal to raise teacher pay on average by 5 percent, compared to 3.7 percent under the senate proposal.

Parents and educators argued that the state doesn't do enough to retain and recruit teachers.

Opponents say too often it's these same parents and educators who are stuck footing the bill.

"Just as a parent at the school, I'm seeing how much parents are stepping up to help fund the school," said Georgia Welch, a parent of a first-grader at E.K. Powe Elementary. "We bring in supplies, we bring in snacks, we organize carnivals, we organize auctions, parents are working all the time to keep these schools afloat."

"I think that we have the know how to reverse the system that is unfair and unjust," said Anca Stefan, an English teacher at The School for Creative Studies.

But Republicans say this town hall is simply political and not based on facts.

In a statement, NC GOP Chairman Robin Hayes said: "This is another leftist political exercise, completely devoid of reality. The NC Senate Budget offers large teacher raises and commits much of this year's surplus to education. What these people really want is punishing high tax rates, something we are against and won't allow."

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