YOUR 2014 LEGISLATIVE SESSION RESOURCE
Legislation creating a new local option sales tax which may be levied to benefit public education gained approval in the House this week. House Bill 333 creates Article 43A allowing counties to levy the tax at a rate of up to one-half percent (1/2%) if the majority of voters approve the levy of the tax in a referendum. The tax must be raised in increments of one-quarter percent (1/4%) and must not result in the county being over their current maximum tax rate (2 ½% for 94 counties and 2 ¾% for 6 counties).
Under the new Article, the proceeds of the tax may not be shared with cities and may only be used as follows:
Public school capital outlay purposes or to retire any indebtedness incurred by the county for these purposes.
Supplements of classroom teacher salaries.
Financial support of community colleges.
The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
Legislation which would place a $1.9 billion bond referendum for public school outlay projects on the November 2018 ballot passed the House Education K-12 Committee on Tuesday. House Bill 866 would provide much needed funds for LEAs to begin addressing the $8 billion in estimated statewide school capital needs identified for the next five years. The last statewide bond for public school capital projects was 1996.
The bill sets out the amounts of grants awarded to LEAs based on 4 categories that each LEA would be eligible for under the bond. Those categories are:
The bill provides for matching requirements for certain categories. Grants allocated for low-wealth and small county designations would not require a county match. The other grants would be required to match every bond dollar with an amount of 3 cents multiplied by the county’s “ability to pay” rank. The “ability to pay” ranking is assigned based on the State Board of Education low-wealth funding formula for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
Three superintendents attended the meeting and spoke to the committee to endorse the legislation. Dr. Chris Lowder, Superintendent of Cabarrus County Schools, impressed to the committee how vital the influx of funds would be to his district, which is growing by over 1,000 students per year, causing difficulty in keeping up with capital needs. Dr. Frank Till, Superintendent of Cumberland County Schools, told the committee that it will cost his district $7 million in new capital needs in order to comply with the impending K-3 class size changes over the next two years. Dr. Michael Bracy, Superintendent of Jones County Schools, praised the proposal, calling the influx of school construction and repair projects an economic driver for the state.
The bill now heads to the House Finance Committee for further consideration before heading to the House floor for a vote. We urge our members to contact members of the House Finance Committee and ask that they support this legislation which will provide vital relief to LEAs and counties facing dire public school capital needs.
To read more, please click here for an article by WRAL-TV.