RALEIGH (June 27, 2024) – On the heels of the House budget proposal, the Senate released its budget adjustments for fiscal year 2024-25 late last week. As with the House, the Senate’s version moved quickly and without adequate time for review and vetting; the measure was introduced on Thursday and scheduled for floor votes on Monday. Beyond the abrupt process, the Senate’s proposal missed an opportunity to safeguard our childcare system. Instead, the Senate prioritized private school voucher expansion, which would benefit wealthy families at the expense of low- and middle-income families.


North Carolina’s childcare system is facing an immediate crisis resulting from a drop-off in federal funding. Although the Senate provides $136.5 million in childcare stabilization grants, it is far short of the bare minimum of $180 million needed to preserve access to affordable, quality childcare. Legislative leaders must act swiftly and boldly to protect nearly one-third of childcare centers across the state at risk of closure if funding is not maintained. Reduced childcare capacity and increased costs will harm many families and businesses, but the impact will be most acute for working families with low and middle incomes. The funding could easily be found within the state’s revenue structure if legislators would prioritize this critical need over the giveaway of hundreds of millions in taxpayer revenue for private school voucher expansion benefiting the state’s wealthiest families.


Despite North Carolina’s historic teacher shortages and turnover rates, the Senate budget fails to provide any teachers’ raises. Teachers are the most important factor in ensuring that students receive the educational opportunities to which they are constitutionally entitled. Our research has shown how legislative policies have created shortages that disproportionately affect the state’s most vulnerable students. This budget’s failure to include even the modest pay raises found in the House budget would rapidly accelerate these opportunity gaps.

Instead of meeting critical needs for North Carolina’s children, the Senate budget uses available funding to double down on school privatization schemes that are proven failures. The budget’s hundreds of millions in voucher spending would largely benefit wealthy North Carolinians who have already enrolled their children in private schools. Research has shown that with vouchers, middle- and working-class families are still unable to afford elite private schools and instead will be consigned to unregulated, low-quality operators with poor academic records.

The Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan and the Governor’s budget have provided legislators with a roadmap for bringing the adequacy and equity of our public schools to minimally acceptable levels under our constitution. Yet, these research-based, community-supported policies have been ignored in favor of school privatization schemes that benefit the wealthy at the expense of middle- and working-class North Carolinians, while chronically defunding public education. North Carolina has a plan to finally close opportunity gaps for children; we need our legislators to have the will to fund and implement it.

Moving Forward

Budgets are moral documents expressing our collective priorities, and, as such, we should expect a process that honors intentional, inclusive review and a product that removes barriers to economic mobility for all North Carolinians. As budget negotiations move to conference, we call on our legislators to proceed with transparency and to center the needs of those with low incomes and those from marginalized communities.