After near-unanimous passage late last night by the North Carolina House of Representatives, the Senate today unanimously passed Senate Bill 534, a “Continuing Resolution” which funds State government functions at current levels for the next 45 days. The temporary funding measure expires on August 14, 2015 at 11:59pm.
Representative McGrady was part of a select group of members of the General Assembly which negotiated the details of the legislation. A similar continuing resolution (House Bill 336) was passed in 2013 to fund government for 30 days until agreement were reached.
A Continuing Resolution, or CR in legislative parlance, was necessary as budget negotiations between House and Senate leaders will continue through the end of the current fiscal year, which is at midnight tonight. The bill continues state funding at current levels, with a few adjustments. (For a comparison between the House and Senate’s proposed budgets, click here.)
“This Continuing Resolution developed by our House Appropriations team gives local school districts flexible funding to continue services for students and prepare for the upcoming school year,” stated Speaker Tim Moore. “Regardless of the differences, the House and Senate budgets have very similar end goals, and I am confident that we place a responsible, conservative budget on the Governor’s desk.”
“Negotiating some clarity in education funding into this CR was a top priority because most schools are set to open in six weeks. How can school systems hire staff if they don’t know what is going to be funded and at what level?” remarked Representative McGrady, also a Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “This CR delivers much-needed certainty to our education system.”
“The resolution maintains the efficient operation of State government while providing for enrollment growth in our schools,” said Representative Nelson Dollar, the House Appropriations Committee’s Senior Chairman. “We look forward to working with our Senate colleagues on a final budget.”
Key Aspects of the Continuing Resolution
- 100% Recurring Funds for School Districts: Immediately allots recurring funds to bring a level of certainty to local schools while House and Senate leaders continue to negotiation final education numbers. Fully funds K-12 enrollment growth for the 2015-2016 School Year.
“The House understands how vital Teaching Assistants are in the classroom and to the outcome of students. By immediately allotting recurring funds, each local superintendent and school board can afford to finance these positions while the House continues to advocate for local flexibility.” — Representative Donny Lambeth
- Starting Teacher Pay Raise: Guarantees a pay raise for starting teachers (0-4yr) to help schools hire and retain new talent for the upcoming school year. Both House and Senate budgets included raising starting teacher pay to $35,000/yr.
“Both House and Senate leadership understands that increasing salaries will help make teaching a desirable profession for the best and brightest. While our charts differ, we all agree that raising the base platform will improve future education standards. The House will continue to advocate for broader teacher raises during budget negotiations to ensure our veteran teachers are rewarded for their long-standing commitment to our children.” — Representative Rob Bryan
- Cooperative, Innovative, Early College High Schools: Provides funds for selected cooperative, innovative, and early college high schools across North Carolina. These new schools are typically located on the campus of a two- or four-year college or university, and aim to graduate students with both a high school diploma and either two years of transferable college credit oran associate degree — all at no additional cost to their families.
“It is important to encourage cutting edge education options that advance the career and college readiness of more students across the State.” —Representative Craig Horn
- Driver Education: Continues optional State funding to help educate young drivers on car and road safety, pending local decision. Counties cannot charge more than $65 for class fees.
“Not every family can afford to pay for Drivers Ed, yet one driver affects everyone on the road. It is important that the State continues our support to ensure that more North Carolinians are responsible drivers.” – Representative Linda Johnson
The bill now goes to Governor Pat McCrory for his signature. For more detailed information on Senate Bill 534, please read the bill summary here.