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Opinion Letters Senator disputes facts quoted by chairman

It is often said that people are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

Apparently, the Chairman of the Macon County Democratic Party believes he is entitled to both.

He hurled facts by the wayside in a recent op-ed, attempting to blame North Carolina’s education and economic woes on Republican legislators.

The brunt of this assault on truth and recent history was directed primarily at me and my legislative record in an apparent attempt to demagogue for political gain.

Fortunately, Western North Carolinians are smarter than the party operatives think, and they don’t suffer from the same political amnesia.

They know, for example, that until the Republicanled General Assembly balanced the state’s budget in June, North Carolina faced a historic $2.5 billion shortfall. It was a shortfall caused by years of reckless overspending and overtaxing during a Democratic-led General Assembly (140 years of Democratic leadership in the Senate, and all but four of those years in the House).

The current Legislature inherited a colossal mess made by previous Legislatures raising taxes and refusing to right-size government while North Carolinians struggled to do more with less.

The op-ed neglected to mention that more teachers, according to North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction, were laid off under the past two Democrat- controlled legislatures than under the current Republican one. Not long ago, the same political opportunists insisted that more than 10,000 educators would lose their jobs under the bipartisan state budget. That number is down to about 500 now, and school systems are still filling vacant positions.

During the previous four years, thousands of teachers were laid off, even as a Democrat- led Legislature dramatically expanded the size of government, raised taxes, and filled budget holes with federal stimulus money.

Teachers and students, neglected under previous budgets that racked up record spending, are protected under the new budget that cuts $1 billion in government spending. It is a fact that teachers and teacher assistants were fully funded in the new state budget. It is also a fact that local districts had to make discretionary cuts. Shouldn’t local officials be the ones to make those cuts? Does anyone really think those cuts should be made from Raleigh? Didn’t the Department of Public Instruction send out a press release two years ago, thanking law makers for giving local districts flexibility? Did the NCAE complain then that law makers were “kicking the decision down to the local level?”

The current Legislature made teacher and classroom results, rather than administrative bureaucracies, a higher priority. That’s why our plan funds more teachers than the governor’s proposed budget, and why it implements several sweeping reforms. We want to boost graduation rates and bolster an educated workforce, rather than to perpetuate a failed status quo.

Democrat politicos want no part in the debate about which education policies work and which do not, presumably because their party’s efforts have driven North Carolina to the bottom in national graduation rate rankings. Instead, they insist that throwing more money at a failed system will somehow benefit our children.

It is a deeply flawed way of thinking. But rest assured it is no longer the prevailing wisdom in the General Assembly. We are taking a stand for students, teachers, and better results.

That’s a fact.

Senator Jim Davis — NC District 50

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