by Felix Perez/photo courtesy of Jim Bowen
Keeping in character with their less than honorable intentions, radical North Carolina state House members voted in the dark of night yesterday to override Governor Bev Perdue’s veto of a Republican-authored budget that will lead to the elimination of 6,000 teacher and teacher assistant jobs and dropping North Carolina to 49th in the nation in funding per pupil.
Dismayed but not defeated, hundreds of energized educators organized by the North Carolina Association of Educators descended on the state capitol in Raleigh later the same day for a lobby day and to deliver 10,000 pennies and copies of the state constitution.
The pennies represent the temporary one cent tax that educators, parents and the majority of North Carolinians supported extending. The sales tax, which would have pumped more than $1 billion into state coffers and offset cuts to education, was eliminated in the vetoed budget. It’s the first time in state history a budget has become law without a governor’s signature.
In a statement after the House vote, Governor Perdue said: “Tonight, the Republican-controlled legislature turned its back on North Carolina’s long-standing commitment to our people to provide quality schools, community colleges and universities — all to save a penny.”
The House veto override vote, 73-46, held at 12:05 a.m., was followed yesterday afternoon by the GOP-controlled Senate, 31-19, in favor of an override.
Sheri Strickland, a 32-year educator and NCAE president, made it clear that educators, parents and students are not standing down. “It is unfortunate that today legislators have decided they do not want to listen and they have chosen to turn their backs on our future. . . But our efforts will continue. We may have not been able to save the one cent tax today but the fight to save our schools will continue.”
Educators and supporters of public education are continuing to organize and mobilize to restore budget cuts and stave off other legislative threats to public education. NCAE’s lobby day was preceded last month by a rally that drew more than 3,000 North Carolina educators, parents, students and public education activists to protest cuts to education funding.