The North Carolina House Tuesday voted down a bill that would have regulated county sales tax rates and earmarked money for economic development. The move also means many school districts will have to cut teacher assistant positions.
House and Senate leaders and Governor McCrory had all agreed to change the state budget to give school districts more flexibility to pay for teacher assistants.
But last week, the Senate tied a bill with those changes to a measure with less broad support in the house. The measure was designed to cap county sales taxes at 2.5 percent, unless voters approved a hike before the end of the year. It also included a $20 million economic development fund to give local governments money to help create jobs. House members from both parties were upset by the Senate move. Cabarrus County Republican Larry Pittman compared the Senate move to extortion.
“The teacher assistant fix to the budget that we need should not be held hostage,” he said.
Republican House leaders encouraged their members to vote for the measure, but it failed 54 to 47, with 28 “no” votes coming from the GOP.
Since that bill failed, the education budget will likely not be changed, but school districts will have to deal with a gap in funding for teacher assistants. In Mecklenburg County, that gap was estimated to be $2.6 million, or 90 assistant positions.
CMS says it will be able to kick-in extra money to keep the positions this year.
The legislature could adjourn for the year as soon as Wednesday.