McCrory touts education budget; some say it's not enough

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Is NC spending enough?

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory wrapped up 2015 with a YouTube video reflecting on his administration's accomplishments this year. One of the first points in the video, after job creation, is how education funding has increased to 57 percent of the general funds state budget for 2015-2016.

Still, some say that's not enough.

In the video, McCrory points out a $700-million increase in new funding for K-12 schools and more than $1 billion for teacher pay raises.

RELATED: Watch the video here.

Keith Poston, the president and executive director of Public School Forum, a public education advocacy group, said the budget increases are insufficient considering the growth in North Carolina's school systems.

"We're 47th in the country in per-pupil spending," Poston said.

"Every state around us, South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, all pay their teachers better than we do," he added. "And it's starting to show up, both in our attrition rates with teachers retiring or leaving, and really more troubling, are the number of students entering our schools of education."

Mitch Kokai, senior political analyst with the conservative-leaning John Locke Foundation, said it's difficult to increase the budget for education without causing another portion of the budget to suffer.

"I think lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory would probably like to devote an even higher percentage to education," Kokai said. "But one thing that has stood in the way of it is unexpected costs and health and human Services, especially Medicaid."

Kokai said the budget increase is significant because of the areas in which those funds are allocation, such as larger salary increases for new teachers.

"In the past, really the solution has been 'we're going to have x-amount of money for teacher pay and let's just give everyone across-the-board pay raises'," Kokai said. "It's not something that's going to work if you want to deal with what has been one of the major problems in North Carolina and that is really low pay for the earliest teachers."

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