Monday, May 6, 2024

Governor Cooper and Democratic Leaders Highlight New Legislation Instituting Moratorium on Taxpayer-Funded Private School Vouchers

May 6, 2024

Today, Governor Cooper and Democratic legislative leaders held a press conference outlining new legislation that would place a moratorium on more taxpayer-funded private school vouchers until our public schools are fully funded. The Governor was joined by Rep. Robert Reives, Sen. Dan Blue, Democratic legislators and public education advocates.

“Instead of raising teacher pay and investing in public schools, legislators want to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on private school vouchers that even millionaires with kids already in private schools can receive,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “This scheme is shockingly irresponsible and the legislature must stop spending more taxpayer money on private school vouchers until they fully fund our public schools.”

"Republican leaders are pushing forward with a plan to funnel more than half a billion dollars into their unaccountable voucher scheme,” said Rep. Robert Reives. “Elected officials have a duty to be good stewards of your tax dollars and ensure that money is well-spent. We are calling for commonsense oversight and accountability for private schools receiving taxpayer money."

“The spending spree on taxpayer funded private school vouchers is out of control,” said Sen. Dan Blue. “We can’t keep giving money to the wealthiest families at the expense of North Carolina’s 1.4 million public school students.”  

This bill places a moratorium on further expansion of the voucher program and adds several new accountability measures for private schools accepting voucher students, including requirements for voucher students to take state standardized tests for their grade and requirements to provide students with disabilities with services in line with federal and state law. The bill also requires additional reporting from private schools accepting voucher students including graduation rates, attendance records, financial audits and aggregate test scores. The bill has been filed in both the House (House Bill 993) and the Senate (Senate Bill 853).

With their recent voucher expansion proposal, the General Assembly is choosing to put more than $625 million in new funding just for the 2024-25 fiscal year into providing taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools. Governor Cooper’s budget proposal provides a different path that invests in our public schools and early childhood and child care system. Instead of wasting $625 million in taxpayer dollars on private school vouchers, legislators could be:

  • Providing an 8.5% average raise for teachers, which would lift beginning teacher pay to first in the Southeast, and
  • Providing a $1,500 retention bonus to most public school educators, and
  • Restoring Master’s pay for over 1,000 teachers with advanced degrees, and
  • Hiring 575 more nurses, counselors, social workers and psychologists for public schools across the state.

Or legislators could invest the $625 million to address the early childhood education and child care crisis facing many communities across the state by:

  • Increasing child care subsidies for working families primarily in rural and low-wealth communities so their kids can get quality care and they can go to work, and
  • Shoring up our nationally-recognized NC Pre-K program to cover the full cost of care for more than 29,000 NC Pre-K students and providing summer programs for students once they complete NC Pre-K and before they enter kindergarten, and
  • Keeping child care centers open with Child Care Stabilization Grants and enhancement grants.

Over the past several weeks, public reporting has raised serious questions about schools receiving taxpayer money despite extreme social agendas. Media stories have also pointed out that many of the state’s top private schools don’t accept state vouchers, meaning students are not afforded new opportunities at the best schools.

All the while, the public schools and public charter schools that continue to serve more than 80% of students are often being asked to do more with less. It is critical that legislators put a moratorium on destructive private school vouchers until North Carolina’s public schools are fully funded.

Read more about the truth of North Carolina's voucher program here.


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