In all the manufactured chaos that descended on the NC General Assembly in the last week, an important item in education seemingly got lost in the mix. Governor McCory rolled out a voucher program for low-income students called “Opportunity Scholarships”.
The nuts and bolts of the program were in a press release that went out on July 28th:
In the 2014-15 school year, North Carolina students who qualify for the federal Free and Reduced-Price Lunch program—43 percent statewide—will be eligible for “Opportunity Scholarships” worth up to $4,200. However, with total funding set at $10 million, maximum scholarships would be available to just more than 2,300 students.
The Governor also plans to introduce another voucher program for students with special needs or disabilities:
Gov. McCrory is expected to approve another voucher program for students with special needs, replacing a tax credit offered to parents of children with disabilities who choose private options. That change will allow families without taxable income to participate. North Carolina also is one of 13 states that makes students with special needs eligible for school choice.
The current tax credit program offers tax credits of $6,000 per child with no statewide cap, with unused credits that roll forward for up to three years. More information on tax credits for children with disabilities can be found here. Related: General Assembly related House bill 269.
Side Note on Spending
Education spending, despite claims from Democrats and liberals, has increased under McCrory. Our friends on the Left in NC, assisted by the media, pushed the narrative that the GOP was cutting education funding. This was patently false.
The Democrats, Liberal action groups and similar outfits based their talking points off forecast numbers, not actual budget numbers. Spending increased and the increases include higher spending on K-12 programs.
Fact: Education spending took a nosedive under Beverly Perdue. So did teacher pay. She froze teacher pay actually and the Democrat controlled legislature went along with it.
You also might hear some liberals clinging to what they have left of the ‘education cuts’ lie and attempting to refute the above chart; claiming it does not account for population growth. Population growth is a fluid factor that is relatively hard to predict hard numbers on. One can extrapolate, but getting it 100% right or getting ahead of it is difficult. No budget is perfect, but legislators do what they can with what they have. Besides, all of that is moot — the point of the chart is to refute cut claims, which is does quite effectively.
Downloadable version of this chart here.