Driver's ed could get much more expensive in North Carolina

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Parents could soon be spending hundreds on driving lessons. (WTVD)

Parents, putting your teenager behind the wheel may get much more expensive in North Carolina.

A provision in the state Senate budget would eliminate funding for driver's education.

If that becomes law, it could cost as much as $400 per child for training.

It wasn't too long ago that the legislature asked parents to spend $50 or $60 to subsidize driver training.

Some parents have said it was all they could do to come with that money, so now the idea of $300 or $400 could mean some kids will not take the classes.

Organizers of summer driver's ed classes, like the Jordan Driving School which has a contract with Wake County Schools, are worried about the proposed increase.

"We have many folks that just couldn't afford it," said Joel Long with Jordan Driving School. "And you could get into a 'have' and a 'have not' situation, of kids that would pay the $300 or $400 to take the course."

Tanisha Peacock, who's teenage daughter hasn't taken driver education yet, admits she would be among the "have nots."

"Being a single mom there is no way I could afford that," she said. "There's no way."

Peacock said the only solution to that dilemma that she can think of is making her daughter wait until she's 18 and can legally get a license without driver's ed.

Which is exactly what teachers at Jordan Driving School say they are worried about.

"If they have to wait until they are 18 years of age, we've got a group of 18-year-olds on the road that have no driving experience," Long said. "And that's not good."

However, what worries Peacock is that many others like her won't be able to afford the $400 cost per child, and will try find out if they are any good at teaching driving themselves.

"Most of us are not," she said. "You know, I wouldn't, I would rather her drive with somebody else than drive with me because I don't know if I could ride with her."

The House budget does not cut funding for driver education.

Thursday morning, after 15 minutes of debate, the Senate voted 32-15 to give final approval to the two-year government spending plan written by Republicans. Senators gave initial approval Wednesday after five hours of debate and more than 20 amendments.

The bill now returns to the House, which passed a very different version last month. The House budget spends almost $700 million more than the Senate does next year. The Senate plan offers many more policy changes. The two chambers will have to work out differences.

Gov. Pat McCrory presented his own budget ideas in March and will be asked to sign any bill into law.

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