Poll: A Majority of North Carolina Voters Think Lawmakers Are Not Telling the Truth About Education Budget Cuts

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Progress NC continues the Pink Slip Truth Tour in Asheville, Charlotte

RALEIGH — A new survey conducted for Progress North Carolina shows that a majority of North Carolina voters believe state lawmakers are not telling the truth about their education budget. Layoffs of thousands of classroom teachers and teacher assistants stand at odds with promises to “protect the classroom.”

Back in June during the heat of state budget debates, NC House Speaker Thom Tillis said, “We have a budget that restores all K-12 education funding for teachers and teachers assistants. The minute this budget gets signed, those people don’t have to worry about being out of a job.” [Press Conference, 6/3/2011]

Also in June, NC Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said, “You said you wanted full funding for teachers and teacher assistants. In this budget, you got that.”[YouTube video, 6/10/2011]

Yet, 56% of North Carolina voters think these lawmakers are not telling the truth.The poll began just one day after the N.C. Dept. of Public Instruction released data from school districts across the state showing over 1,800 teachers and TA’s laid off and 4,300 classroom positions eliminated by the state budget.

“Voters believe the political promise to ‘protect the classroom’ about as much as high school geography students trust a world lesson from the Flat Earth Society,” said Gerrick Brenner, Executive Director for Progress North Carolina. “And when parents hear that lawmakers have now slashed North Carolina’s per pupil funding to 49th among states, below Mississippi, credibility of the “protect the classroom” promise completely crumbles away.”

The poll also finds that 60% of respondents would be willing to pay an extra 1% sales tax to make up for education cuts in the state budget. State budget writers left more than one billion dollars on the table when they decided to let a temporary one cent sales tax expire. Those dollars would have been more than enough to cover all the cuts to K-12 school systems.

Additionally, a majority of voters says they would be less likely to vote for a state lawmaker who voted in favor of a budget which cuts education while reducing the sales tax by 1%.

“Clearly North Carolinians are more concerned about cuts to the classroom than a one cent on the sales tax,” said Brenner. “When lawmakers are writing budgets they should remember the voters’ deep desire for quality public schools.”

The survey was conducted on behalf of Progress North Carolina by Public Policy Polling (PPP). PPP surveyed 447 North Carolina voters between September 1-4.

Meanwhile, Progress NC continues its Pink Slip Truth Tour in Asheville and Charlotte today to inform citizens on the magnitude of the education cuts, despite promises to “protect the classroom.” The tour began Monday in Raleigh and will continue throughout the week in other stops around the state.

Download Progress NC Education Poll.pdf for complete results.


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