The Republican tax bill, which recently passed in the House , would cost North Carolina public schools more than $5 billion over the next decade if it becomes law.
The state and local tax deduction (SALT) has been part of federal income tax law since it was passed in 1913. This deduction allows state and local governments to raise more revenues to fund public services like education. But the House and Senate versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act drastically reduce or eliminate this source of funding altogether.
A report from the National Education Association shows if this provision becomes law, it would cut 6,300 teaching positions in North Carolina within a single year. And this would be particularly bad for Eastern North Carolina because the region already has many areas with some of the highest teacher shortages in the state, said Mark Jewell, president of North Carolina Association of Educators.
“We’ve had elementary kindergarten positions in Eastern North Carolina that have been vacant all year and taught by a substitute,” he said.
If the tax bill becomes law, North Carolina public schools would lose the same amount of money they receive from the federal Title I program, which helps fund low-income school districts, Jewell said. Most of the counties in Eastern North Carolina qualify for supplemental state funding because their ability to raise local revenue per student falls below the state average, a report from the state's department of public instruction shows.
“Many of our positions are funded through Title I positions in Eastern North Carolina. We also know that there’s a high need for special education there," Jewell said. "It’s difficult to recruit that specialized area to teach students with disabilities. So, this just exacerbates the problem when you say that you’ll be eliminating billions of dollars over the next ten years that meets the needs of those students.”
The Senate is considering a modified version of the tax bill that passed in the House and might vote on it after Thanksgiving.