Proposal is nearly identical to the Governor's proposal, including cuts to contract and additional state funds to replace lost federal dollars. The Senate would help an additional 100 foster care children attend college, compared with the Governor's 200. The Senate budget also includes a transfer of funds to Medicaid to help cover the shortfall and does not increase funding to food banks, as the Governor's budget proposed.
The Health Choice spending plan is similar to the Governor's budget, with the largest decrease being the transfer of children to Medicaid. The plan also includes some additional cuts to Health Choice that mirror changes made in Medicaid: provider rate freezes for some services, a fee for use of emergency services for non-emergency health needs, and a change in the way prescription drugs are invoiced. There is no cap placed on Health Choice enrollment.
Major proposed changes in Mental Health include closing the three state-run Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Centers and committing less than half of those funds to community-based treatment programs, and the closure of Wright School, for children with mental health and behavioral disorders. Funds are included for the N.C. Child Treatment Program, for children dealing with trauma, and for a statewide telepsychiatry phone line to help reduce stress on emergency room departments.
Overall cuts to public education are much steeper in the Senate budget than in the Governor's proposed plan.
The budget proposes to eliminate the annual LEA adjustment (where local school districts returned a certain amount of funding back to the state), and divide the cut instead among classroom teacher allotments, instructional support personnel and instructional supplies. The result will be increased student:teacher ratios and less funding for instructional support personnel and supplies. Like in the Governor's budget, teaching assistants are eliminated for second and third grades. The cut to Limited English Proficiency students is higher than in the Governor's budget, and responsibility and funding for teachers at juvenile facilities is transferred from Public Safety to DPI. As in the Governor's budget, funding is allotted for the Excellent Public Schools Act. The Senate budget also includes a $500 annual salary increase for teachers who agree to sign a four-year contract based on teacher effectiveness.
As in the Governor's budget, state support for the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching is eliminated, as is support for the Teaching Fellows scholarship program. Teach for America receives some additional funding, and the charter school office staff is increased slightly.
PUBLIC SAFETY, as it pertains to juvenile justice
The Senate proposes steeper cuts to juvenile justice-related line items than the Governor's budget.
The budget proposes to close several youth institutions, including Western Youth Institution, Lenoir Youth Development Center, and Richmond and Buncombe Detention Centers, Administrative cuts are proposed, including some filled positions, and, as mentioned above, responsibility and funding for educational services are transferred to DPI. Additional funding is allotted for a new Western Multipurpose Group Home, to respond to needs arising from the closure of the Buncombe Detention Center, and $1.5 million in additional funding is provided to Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils to increase community programming for adjudicated youth.