RALEIGH – Democrats in the General Assembly are calling North Carolina households making a combined $70,000 a year “high-income” and say they should be excluded from private school scholarships.
The remarks came as the state Senate debated expanding the “Opportunity Scholarship” program, which offers low-income families a voucher to help afford private school tuition. The vouchers are capped at $4,200 per year, and eligibility is based on the federal guidelines for free or reduced-price lunch.
Under current law, families at or below 133% of those income guidelines are eligible. Around 9,600 students benefit from the program this school year.
The Senate bill under consideration would up that to 150% of the free or reduced-price lunch guidelines. For a family of four, that would increase the maximum income from $63,358 to around $71,456.
According to North Carolina Democrats, a family becomes wealthy somewhere between those two numbers.
“This is no longer going to be a program that was as originally designed,” Mecklenburg County Democrat Sen. Natasha Marcus said, as reported by the News & Observer. “Instead it’s going to be one for relatively high-income families to send their kids to private schools even if they can and probably are now affording private school from their own funds.”
The comments are just the latest example of Democrat hypocrisy when it comes to income and wealth.
Democrats have regularly criticized teacher pay levels in North Carolina, despite them being among the fastest-growing in the nation. Entry-level teachers earn a minimum of $35,000 per year, and more in larger counties. The average teacher pay is north of $50,000 per year.
Sen. Jim Perry, a Republican from Lenoir County, pointed out on Twitter that a family with two first-year teachers parenting two children would earn that $70,000 figure.
Today, on the Senate floor, the idea was offered that a family of 4 with an income of $71,456 was a “relatively high income family.” This could be two first year teachers with two children….think about that fact.https://t.co/8MMZAEk0Uz
— Senator Jim Perry (@JamesPerryNC) May 8, 2019
The bill passed the Senate with unanimous support from Republicans and one Democrat — Sen. Ben Clark.