Dumb Math, or why North Carolina doesn't have a budget yet | News
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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dumb Math, or why North Carolina doesn't have a budget yet

Posted by on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 2:53 PM

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In my middle school, kids who weren’t good with numbers were put in a class where the teacher taught algebra at a slower pace. We called that class “Dumb Math.”

I was in Dumb Math, as were apparently North Carolina’s state Senate and House of Representatives budget negotiators, who are, still, taking their sweet time to figure out how to spend $21.74 billion in the next two years. 

Dumb Math: How else to explain the third extension of a temporary budget that was set to expire on Monday? How else to explain why the real budget, which was supposed to have been agreed upon two months ago, has not been agreed upon yet? School started on Monday, what exactly is the holdup here?

I don’t know, but here are some absolute truths and theorems about what the budget (its release set to coincide with the beginning of football season) will look like:

Teachers and state employees won’t get raises: With millions of dollars going to education in the private sector etcetera, House and Senate can’t afford to compensate anyone fairly. So state employees and teachers already schooling your child will get a one-time bonus of $750, according to reports. Most of these people haven’t gotten a raise in years, but maybe they can get a nice TV or something. And don’t even worry about paying for that teaching assistant, or the guy showing your fifteen year-old how to drive; they’ve already probably been laid off.

Mental health funding could be cut: Like paying teachers, funding mental health services through Medicaid just is not a priority for the Senate. As with education, some things are best left to the private sector, they figure. So what is a priority for the Senate?

Reducing the corporate and personal income tax rate: Yachts and jets and elusive automakers who would rather go to South Carolina don’t pay for themselves. Also

TABOR: This Art Pope designated item on the checklist which requires a constitutional amendment may still be a thing. Colorado told us it’s a bad idea, but this isn’t a crowd that learns from mistakes. 

The lottery, again: If you weren’t in Dumb Math you would never play the North Carolina Education lottery, but don’t knock it because it is basically the only mechanism in place for funding public schools right now. It “makes sense” to up its advertising, as does selling lottery tickets at the liquor store and creating a market for online gambling.

As much as we sympathize with folk who can’t do math good, state lawmakers really only had one job, and that was to make a reasonable budget in a timely manner. You could say they failed Dumb Math, but Senate Democratic leader Dan Blue puts it more eloquently: 

"With spending targets finalized and four full days left under the current resolution, I am disappointed to see a third stop-gap spending measure. In most businesses if you don’t do the job, you don’t get paid, but here that is not the case. With no assurance on funding for driver’s education and teaching assistants, counties and school districts are left gambling with our student’s safety and their future. Instead of rolling their sleeves up and getting to work for the people of this state, Republican leadership is again kicking the can down the road. This is irresponsible leadership.”

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