NC Senate, House budget bills released – and they fail to address the state’s biggest needs
Cooper’s budget proposal is impressive – it calls for big investments in teachers, students, working families and infrastructure.
Cooper’s budget has six points of focus:
- Raise teacher and state employee pay
- Expand Medicaid
- Tax breaks for middle-class families
- Addressing the mental health crisis
- Funding public schools for a sound, basic education
- Infrastructure investments
The governor’s budget proposal calls for an average teacher pay raise of 18% and includes funding for school bus drivers, counselors and other school staff. The budget would also provide every student the opportunity to get a sound, basic education by funding the Leandro Plan and calls for a $1 billion plan to support mental health and substance use treatments.
State employees would also see some big benefits. Cooper’s budget makes a huge investment in state employees by increasing pay, improving benefits and providing flexibility to hire the most qualified people. The budget would also help middle-class families by providing them with tax breaks.
As for the Republicans, both budgets are terrible and don’t adequately address the state’s most important needs.
- House Republicans’ budget proposal offers a 5.5% average raise for teachers, compared to Cooper’s average of 10% in 2023 and 6% in 2024. In addition, state Republicans’ budget fails to meet Leandro funding numbers, offers less for child care investments, and features no bonuses for teachers and state workers.
- The House Republican budget also prioritizes blocking schools, local governments, and colleges from requiring students and staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
- The Senate budget calls for tax cuts and a massive increase in funding for private school vouchers at the expense of public school funding.
- The Senate budget contains lower raises for teachers and state employees than even the House budget – teachers would get an average pay increase of 4.5% over two years and state workers would see a 5% raise across the board over the next two years.
The Senate bill was so bad that the governor rightly called it a disaster on Twitter shortly after it was released.
“This Republican Senate budget is a historic disaster for public education. It fails to fund basic needs and will force school leaders to cut everything from bus routes to courses even though North Carolina can afford to do much more,” Cooper tweeted. “[T]he Senate budget slaps veteran teachers with 15+ years in the classroom in the face with only a $250 raise spread over 2 years. But it rewards statewide politicians with big raises of more than 15-20%. That’s insulting, and it’s wrong.”
Now that the governor and both chambers have released their budgets, the general assembly will get together and try to work out some sort of an agreement to send to Cooper. It remains to be seen just how bad the Republicans’ final budget will be and if the governor will sign it.