Challenge for State: Hold Line on Budget
The North Carolina General Assembly faces a particularly difficult and thankless challenge in its current effort to cobble together a budget.
At the moment, the state government’s enormous revenue shortfall stands at nearly $800 million, and it could creep up to $1 billion before all is said and done.
Difficult or no, the legislature must bite the bullet and do everything possible to curb spending and make cuts where it can. Creativity is the name of the game. Because this particular year looks especially dire, it won’t be easy to avoid reductions in critical areas.
One of those areas is education. Public education is arguably the most important service the government provides to its people. Many politicians campaigning for office often play up their support and promise that they’ll make sure education gets the most funding, the best teachers and best technology.
So it’s understandably frustrating to those in the schools that despite hollow campaign pledges, education often seems the first thing to face cuts. Look at our own school system. Moore County Superintendent Susan Purser said this past week that it could be looking at potentially another big loss this year. Next year, when federal stimulus money is scheduled to fade away like the Cheshire Cat, the system will lose more than $5 million. This gloomy outlook follows a year in which the school system had to eliminate 50 positions.
We understand the concerns of Debbie Kelly, president of the Moore County Association of Educators, and her colleagues for expressing their concerns to state legislators and the Moore County Board of Commissioners. They have every right to argue for themselves and the students they serve.
But they still must be realistic. If the money isn’t there, it isn’t there. Things are tough all over. The General Assembly should do what it can to direct as much as it can into the classroom, but there’s a limit. Holding the line on spending is still Job One.
At some point, the state and all levels of government are going to have to take a close look at the pension systems that threaten to bankrupt them, though this is clearly too big of a job to take on in this short session.
More like this story