Just a year after North Carolina passed the now-revoked bill requiring transgender children to use bathrooms that align with the gender written on their birth certificates instead of the one they identify with, the top Republicans in the state have once again attacked the public education sector.
However, this time around, the devastation targets only Democratic districts.
As The News & Observers reported, the GOP state senators were visibly annoyed after a budget debate, which started Thursday and went into the early hours of Friday, continued to prolong as Democrats filed back-to-back amendments pushing funding for their initiatives.
The Republican majority successfully voted down each of the five proposed amendments, but at about 1 a.m., Senate Rules Chairman Bill Rabon called a recess, during which Senate leader Phil Berger summoned Minority Leader Dan Blue to the front of the chamber for a private conservation. Other GOP officials soon joined them behind closed doors.
The meeting lasted for about two hours, during which the Democrats reportedly held an “impromptu dance party.”
Soon after the session resumed at around 3 a.m., one of the Republican senators introduced a new budget amendment of his own. Sen. Brent Jackson said it would fund pilot programs to combat the growing opioid epidemic.
Considering how opioid epidemic has become one of the most severe public health issues in North Carolina, the bill appeared bipartisan enough, right?
Apparently, the senators did not have enough time to read the proposal and a vote was cast a few minutes later. Thanks to the GOP majority — and two Democratic senators who voted in its favor — the revised budget passed in the Senate.
The Republicans had not mentioned where they would get $1 million to fund the pilot program for their cause, but as the Democrats later found out, the money was going to come out of the education programs in the Democratic districts — along with some of the other initiatives proposed by the Senate minority.
“I don’t know what motivated the amendment, but it will have a devastating effect on an area that is already suffering,” lamented Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram, whose rural district in northeastern North Carolina reportedly took “the biggest hit” from the amendment and would have to suffer $316,646 cuts from two early college high schools.
The amendment also banned the state from financially supporting the Eastern North Carolina STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program, which has helped a number of African American and low-income families in the state.
“The future of children should not be caught up in a political disagreement between members,” Smith-Ingram added.
As if that was not enough, the amendment further cut the program that financially supported teacher assistants working on a college degree in seven counties represented by the Democrats.
The only counties not affected are the ones represented by the Republicans.
“Other items cut in the late-night amendment include $200,000 to bring fresh produce to food deserts, $250,000 to fund additional staff for the N.C. Museum of Art’s recently expanded art park and $550,000 for a downtown revitalization program,” reported The News & Observer.
Truth be told, this amendment is nothing but an assault on public education.