N.CAROLINA JUDGE CRITICIZES LEGISLATURE’S FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH FUNDING ORDER
State Superior Court Judge David Lee, at a hearing earlier this month in the long-pending Leandro litigation, said he was “very disheartened” that the General Assembly appears to be planning to fund only a small part of the court-approved Comprehensive Remedial Plan for ensuring that all students in the state are provided a “sound basic education” by 2028. The judge scheduled a court hearing for October 18, and said if the plan isn’t fully funded by then, he will consider options on how the Court can resolve the matter.
In an order issued last June, Judge Lee had approved the comprehensive eight-part plan submitted jointly by the plaintiffs and Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, including its estimated $5.6 billion price tag. He stated in that order that:
[T]he Comprehensive Remedial Plan shall be implemented in full and in accordance with the timelines set forth therein;
If the State fails to implement the actions described in the Comprehensive remedial Plan—actions which it admits are necessary and which, over the next biennium, the Governor’s proposed budget and Senate Bill 622 confirm are attainable — “it will then be the duty of this Court to enter a judgment granting declaratory relief and such other relief as needed to correct the wrong.” 346 N./C. at 357.
The Comprehensive Remedial Plan calls for $690.7 million in new education funding this year and $1.06 billion next year. Although the Republican-controlled legislature is still deliberating about the final budget for the next biennium, the Senate budget included only $191.6 million this year and $213.7 million next year, and the House provided $370 million this year and $382.1 million next year.