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Despite Gov.'s Veto, N.C. Budget Hammers Early Care and Learning

Yesterday, North Carolina Gov. Beverly Purdue vetoed the state's $19.5 billion budget proposal, which includes big cuts to health, public safety and education, including early learning. The proposal, which passed both state chambers with a veto-proof majority, would cut 20 percent of funding for state pre-K (More at Four) and Smart Start, a program that funds child care, health, and learning for children ages 6 and younger.

The cuts would eliminate Smart Start's health-related programs and likely privatize pre-K, shifting it away from K-12 schools and into private child care centers, according to an article from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Daily Tar Heel.

According to Marci Young, policy director for Pre-K Now, the proposed budget cuts would take the state's position nationally on early childhood "from a leader all the way to the bottom."

Charlotte's WCNC.com ran a story that quoted Purdue making the same argument for her veto, the first time a North Carolina governor has ever vetoed a budget bill. "I cannot support a budget that sends the message that North Carolina is moving backward, when we have always been a state that leads the nation," Purdue said during a late afternoon press conference yesterday..

Carolina Public Press, an independent online news service, has been tracking the likely impact of the proposed cuts in western North Carolina.

Republican lawmakers promised quick action to override the governor's veto. "We will act quickly to move North Carolina forward," said Senate president (pro tem) Phil Berger, a Republican from Rockingham, in the south-central part of the state.

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