Gov. Cooper’s budget will raise teacher pay, cut taxes for the middle class, fully fund the Leandro Plan

Gov. Cooper’s budget will raise teacher pay, cut taxes for the middle class, fully fund the Leandro Plan

Gov. Roy Cooper released the last budget of his term in office and it calls for bold, serious investments in teachers, students, working families and infrastructure.

Cooper’s budget has six points of focus:

  1. Raise teacher and state employee pay
  2. Expand Medicaid
  3. Tax breaks for middle-class families
  4. Address the mental health crisis
  5. Fund public schools for a sound, basic education
  6. Infrastructure investments

The governor’s budget proposal calls for an average teacher pay raise of 18%, which would make North Carolina’s teacher pay tops in the Southeast, instead of one of the worst. The budget also includes badly needed funding for counselors, school bus drivers and other school staff. 

Continuing to address issues with public schools, Cooper’s budget will provide every student the opportunity to get a sound, basic education by funding the Leandro Plan. Republicans are against it, despite the state Supreme Court repeatedly ruling over the past 29 years that the state has a constitutional obligation to fund the plan.

The budget also calls for a $1 billion plan to support mental health and substance use treatments. Depending on the expansion of Medicaid during this current fiscal year, the state will be eligible to receive an additional $1.75 billion from the federal government.

Much to the chagrin of Republicans, the budget will also help middle-class families by providing them with tax breaks – while not raising any taxes on others.

Legislative Republicans have already complained about the governor’s budget, though it’s hard to find a legitimate reason why. Cooper’s budget addresses what should be bipartisan priorities – funding for schools that will provide students with a proper education and teachers with higher pay, infrastructure, healthcare, and ways to attract new businesses and industries, just to name a few.

The part that everyone should like? Cooper’s budget would do all of these great, necessary things while increasing the state’s “rainy day” reserves from the current $3.25 billion to almost $7 billion

Patrick Zarcone

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