NC Senate's Budget Proposal Moves to Defund High School Driver's Education

Jul 15, 2015

As the North Carolina General Assembly reconvenes this week, one budget item remains on the chopping block: high school driver’s education. The Senate’s current budget proposal would eliminate driver’s education classes as a learner’s permit requirement. 

Senate Republicans say the driver’s education isn’t working because roughly half of students fail the Department of Motor Vehicle’s license test. That’s statistic comes from a report by the legislature’s Program Evaluation Division. But that figure is an average from the past six years. Looking at the statistical trend, the failure rate steadily declined from 59 percent in 2008 to 33 percent in 2013.

Senator Michael Lee says the Senate wants the State Board of Community Colleges to develop a plan to take over the role of driver’s education:

"That may involve a variety of different things. It could mean that they offer courses, it could mean that they have online courses, it could mean that they have satellite courses. I’m not really sure what the community college system will end up developing."   

The Senate’s budget provides for the development of the program, but not necessarily the implementation. So there’s no way of knowing how much this new method might cost parents. The House’s proposed budget would continue to publicly subsidize high school driver’s education. As the House and Senate work towards a united budget, Senator Lee says the proposed overhaul of driver’s education could change as the negotiations move forward.