GOP leaders agree on $20.6 billion NC budget

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 21, 2013 at 9:08 pm •  Published: July 21, 2013
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North Carolina forcibly sterilized about 7,600 people who the state deemed feeble-minded or otherwise undesirable between 1929 and 1974. Some of the victims were as young as 10 and chosen because they were promiscuous or did not get along with their schoolmates.

While many states had similar eugenics programs, most of them were abandoned after the practice was associated with the Nazis after World War II. But North Carolina actually expanded its program after the war.

A group set up to help North Carolina victims estimated up to 1,800 were still living last year, though it had only verified 146 of them.

The Legislature has debated whether to compensate eugenics victims for years, but the proposal didn't gain much traction until 2012. A bill to pay each victim $50,000 passed the House with the support of then-Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue and Speaker Tillis, but stalled in the Senate.

The budget also eliminates state funding for the nonprofit Rural Economic Development Center, which was stung by a negative audit last week, triggering the resignation of its long-time president. In its place, the legislature is creating a new division within the N.C. Department of Commerce to focus on improving services to the state's rural counties.

"Together, members of the House and Senate have carefully crafted a plan that smartly invests in key priorities like education and public safety while fulfilling our shared commitment to fiscal responsibility and accountability in state government," said Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), according to the release.

Alexandra Forter Sirota, the budget and tax director at the left-leaning N.C. Justice Center, saw it differently.

"Lawmakers chose to drain available revenues by $524 million over the next two years through an ill-advised series of tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations," Sirota said in a statement issued Sunday by the advocacy group. "This revenue loss isn't just a number on a piece of paper — it means fewer teachers in more crowded classrooms, higher tuition rates and elevated debt load for families, scarcer economic development opportunities for distressed communities and longer waiting lists for senior services."

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Associated Press writer Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.

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Follow AP writer Michael Biesecker at twitter.com/mbieseck



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