WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- State Senate candidates face a serious challenge, especially in education. Tuesday night's town hall forum co-sponsored by WWAY gave people the chance to see just where those candidates stand.
All the candidates want to boost education, but it's hard to do that when there's no money and a $3 billion deficit. What it all boils down to is either cutting programs or raising taxes.
With November just around the corner, District 8 and 9 Senate candidates are speaking up about what they want to do if they get seats in Raleigh. One thing that they can all agree on is lifting the cap on charter schools in North Carolina.
"They're non-government run public schools that empower parents," District 9 Republican candidate Thom Goolsby said. "They can focus on the needs of specific groups of children, whether they're minority groups, special needs groups, or whether they're accelerated groups. Whatever they may be, charter schools are held accountable. If they don't produce, they get closed."
Currently, the cap on charter schools is 100. It's a restrictive cap that District 9 candidates Goolsby and Jim Leutze and District 8 candidates Bill Rabon and David Redwine say must go, because public school class sizes are becoming overwhelming.
"Just like a carpenter, measure twice cut once," Democratic candidate Leutze said. "What I don't want to cut is education or those things that we're going to need to get us out of a hole, and when the economy begins to pick up we're going to need educated people in order to fuel that."
Education plays a key role in creating a successful economy. Quality education means schools need good teachers, but candidates say there's not enough money to pay what they deserve. As a result, they fear a weakening education system in North Carolina.
"We're going to have to make cuts, and it's going to be tough," District 8 Republican Rabon said. "I think there's definitely some cuts in the greater university system that we can make, and maybe we can use some of that money in the K-12 program."
While education remains at the top of the priority list for most, some say it all comes back to jobs, jobs, jobs.
"It's not only just a job, but once you get a paycheck people feel good about themselves and are a part of the community," Redwine, a District 8 Democrat, said. "They're more apt to be involved with their kids, more apt to be involved in their school and all of that parental involvement, all of that improvement improves student education achievement."