State lawmakers return Wednesday to start their work for 2017, their first session sharing Raleigh with the Cooper administration. The News & Observer takes a look at four people and five issues that will matter this year. Get to know Dale Folwell, Darren Jackson, Bill Rabon and Sarah Stevens. Find out what the General Assembly could consider on taxes, election law, teacher and principal pay, House Bill 2 and Hurricane Matthew relief. And learn more about how the legislative process works.
Teacher raises are a perennial issue for state politicians, and on this topic Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and the Republican legislature have a shot at agreement.
Senate leader Phil Berger restated his intention to raise average teacher pay to $55,000 over the next two years when legislative leaders gave a preview of the session earlier this month. House Speaker Tim Moore was more circumspect about meeting a specific goal, but embraced the idea of raises.
Cooper has called for raising teacher pay to at least the national average.
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Last year, the legislature provided teacher raises averaging 4.7 percent.
There’s a push in the legislature to raise pay for school principals, who have largely missed out on the increases that have gone to teachers. Average principal pay has dipped to the bottom of national rankings.
A legislative committee has come up with a plan for not only increases in base pay but to send a type of block grant to districts to reward certain principals for performance. Legislators on the committee would have to sell this idea to their colleagues.