Local school officials are continuing to rail against the General Assembly’s practice of lying about its budgetary support of local school systems, asking local residents to write their representatives in the General Assembly to demand they stop the practice.
What they are talking about is the practice by which the General Assembly and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction approves a budget figure that it plans to use for funding local school systems across the state. The only problem is, part of the way through the school year the state will demand that systems give some of that money back, a practice it calls reversion.
We call it lying, especially when the General Assembly knows full well when it sends out the approved budget figures it does not have the money to fund at that level and it will, at some point during the year, ask for that money back.
The state began this practice 15 years ago, according to Surry County School Superintendent Dr. Ashley Hinson. At that time, it was supposed to be a one-time action to balance a state budget, but it has become an annual practice.
Not that residents of North Carolina should be surprised. The state has a long history of being dishonest in its budgeting process. Ask any legislator and they will tell you — even brag — that the state is required by law to approve a balanced budget each year, one in which expense does not outpace revenue.
But in North Carolina that often has meant raiding dedicated non-general revenue funds to balance the general fund budget, or giving school systems a certain amount of money, only to yank part of it back.
We had hoped this practice would be one that would change, given the high turnover in the most recent General Assembly election. It would appear, however, that politicians are politicians, regardless of political affiliation or campaign promises, and once in Raleigh the status quo remains.
We hope the members of the General Assembly will change this practice now, in this present budget cycle. And if they don’t, perhaps voters should look to make another change come November.