Politics & Government

Budget promises raises for teachers and state workers, but there’s a catch

NC House Speaker Tim Moore talks about proposed budget

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore talks about a proposed state House budget during a press conference in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, April 30, 2019.
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North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore talks about a proposed state House budget during a press conference in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

Teachers and state employees typically see their raises kick in starting in July of a new fiscal year, but this year, many of them would have to wait until Jan. 1 to get the boost in their paycheck.

That’s how the raises would be structured under the House budget bill — a change from previous years that’s prompting outcry from the State Employees Association of North Carolina.

“In a classic case of adding insult to injury, state employees would have to wait until 2020 to even start seeing the paltry dollar a day (after taxes) raise the House budget gives them,” SEANC lobbyist Ardis Watkins said in an email. “This is insulting and state employees are rightfully livid.”

SEANC had already criticized the proposed raise of 1%, or $500, as inadequate. Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincoln County Republican and a senior budget writer, said the delayed raises were “because of availability. It’s a matter of priorities in the budget, making sure that we got the raises that we wanted to get and trying to address those as best we can.”

The delayed raises also apply to the proposed teacher raises. The teacher pay increase had been touted as an average 4.8% raise in a Tuesday news conference, but on Wednesday, that figure was revised downward to 4.6%.

The teacher pay scale also wouldn’t change until Jan. 1, although teachers who move up a step on the salary scale would get a raise at the beginning of the school year.

Thousands of teachers and their supporters marched in Raleigh on Wednesday. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s spokesperson, Jamal Little, said in a statement that Republican leaders “touted these raises when the teachers were in town while deliberately hiding the fact that their raises were only for half a year. Only after the teachers left did they find out the Republicans pulled another fast one on them. Our public schools deserve better.”

The new pay scale for 2020 would increase pay only for veteran teachers with more than 15 years of experience, while starting pay would remain at $35,000. Teachers with advanced degrees would also get more money.

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