Boss Bev, legislative Dems, and their hench-persons in North Carolina’s alleged mainstream media (MSM) tried to tell us THE SKY WOULD FALL if budget cuts pushed by GOP legislators were to pass. Well, the budget cuts passed — with the help of a handful of right-minded Dems — and, the last time I checked, the sky is STILL UP THERE.
Well, a report on severance pay to state workers has come out, and it reveals that things have been nowhere near as bad as the MSM, the Dems, and Boss Bev told us they would be:
Severance payments and benefits have been drawn down for at least 1,600 laid-off state government and education workers since July, North Carolina’s state budget office said Wednesday. It again raises questions about the extent of layoffs caused by the Republican-penned budget.
The Office of State Budget and Management told legislative budget-writers that $23.7 million had been allocated as of Nov. 1 from $69 million that the General Assembly set aside in a severance reserve fund. The money gives displaced workers a cash severance payment as well as Social Security contributions and up to 12 months of health insurance coverage.
The state budget office said the reserve paid to state departments has distributed to government agencies the equivalent of 1,629 full-time workers — meaning the number of workers is likely a little greater because not everyone who was laid off was a full-time employee. More severance requests were expected during the fiscal year as workforce reductions continue, the budget office said.
The data released has limitations. For example, it only involves workers paid for with state funds, not federal or local funds.
GOP legislative leaders found the numbers to be a strong argument against the warnings by Democratic lawmakers and advocacy groups that several times as many people would lose their jobs if the budget was enacted.
“It’s significantly less that the numbers that have been bouncing around the past several months,” said Sen. Richard Stevens, R-Wake, one of three co-chairmen of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
He said about $21 million was spent on severance during the previous two-year budget cycle, when Democrats wrote the budget. This year, there were layoffs, but “nowhere near” what had been projected,” Stevens said.
Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue said the state budget office report doesn’t account for all the state employees and teachers who were laid off or positions that were eliminated without an actual layoff. Perdue vetoed the $19.7 billion budget, only to see the veto overridden by Republicans and a handful of Democrats.
The report “is not designed to reflect all of the harm that the General Assembly’s budget is doing to our schools, and it should not be relied on for that purpose,” Perdue said.
She added: “The leaders of the General Assembly were simply wrong when they said that their budget cuts wouldn’t cause reductions in the classroom.”
State education officials said the budget would lead to the elimination to 13,000 public education jobs alone, although some job losses included vacancies and others based on projections on how local school districts would make another $124 million in spending cuts. The North Carolina Budget & Tax Center estimated the two-year budget would cause a net loss of 30,000 public and private sector positions, particularly when lost Medicaid funding was taken into account.
Legislative Democrats said no one should jump to conclusions based on the new figures. Data from the Employment Security Commission gives a better picture of the extent of the losses, said Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe. Jobs in the government sector — federal, state and local — are down nearly 19,000 for the year ending this September, according to the commission.
But Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union, said the severance figures and comparable numbers for the previous two years “offer some clarity that this (year’s budget) was just not a wholesale blood-letting of employees.”
The table presented by deputy budget officer David Brown to a joint House-Senate budget committee meeting said 516 school district employees have received the 12-month health insurance coverage. It doesn’t take into account laid-off teachers or other workers paid for with non-state funds, or people who choose not to elect receiving the additional coverage, said Philip Price, chief financial officer of the Department of Public Instruction.
“It’s a subgroup of all the positions that were terminated,” Price said.
The public schools said in September a survey of nearly state’s school districts found 534 teachers lost their jobs statewide, and 2,418 education workers were cut ahead of the current school year. Some people were rehired this fall as some districts had an increase in students.
The University of North Carolina system cut more than 3,000 employees. But many didn’t qualify for severance since more than 2,500 workers were designated as part-time or temporary workers. The state budget office report said severance had been allocated for 243 full-time system workers.
The equivalent of about 146,000 full-time workers was employed within state government as of last December, with another 176,000 in the public schools and community colleges, according to a survey of state agencies.