HOW NOT TO SPEND THE SURPLUS

With conservative economic reforms working, North Carolina now has a half-billion dollar budget surplus.

Fair minds can debate what to do with an extra $550 million. Return it to taxpayers? More Rainy Day savings? Teacher raises? All of the above? More on that in the coming weeks.

Here’s what legislators should NOT do: allow school bureaucrats to ignore the conservative majority’s order that class size go down in early grades.

The conservative majority passed a class size reduction. Remember?

But bureaucrats want to shift teacher money into other pet projects and claim art, music and physical education teachers have to be fired if the bureaucrats can’t stuff 24 kids in early grade classrooms so money can go into other things. Of course, the conservative majority will get the blame if class size goes up because they will have given bureaucrats the power to do it.

The whole local flexibility scheme hands Roy Cooper a club to beat Republicans over the head, elect enough Democrats to make his veto stick and kill reforms like more school choice.

The solution is easy: Don’t raise class size. Drop the local flexibility bill. Make the bureaucrats prove they really can’t fund art, music and physical education teachers within the existing $13 billion school budget. And use the budget surplus to fund them if necessary.

The class size reduction is a good reform. Don’t fall into the trap of increasing class size now.