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More money for teachers in McCrory budget

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Gov. McCrory outlines new budget (WTVD)

Governor Pat McCrory proposed a new state budget Friday that includes more money for teachers while not increasing taxes or fees.

"My budget invests dollars where they matter most by spending on key priorities that have the biggest impact on North Carolinians and their families," said Governor McCrory. "These investments build on our commitment to strengthen education, enhance public safety, improve the health of our citizens, build new roads that connect our communities, all while reforming government to make it more accountable and efficient."

McCrory's 2016-17 fiscal year plan includes boosting average teacher pay to more than $50,000 with an average 5-percent pay increase. There would also be an average 3.5 percent bonus for teachers and principals with a greater share going to veteran teachers. Veteran teachers with more than 24 years of service would get about $5,000.

The governor wants to increase the state's rainy day fund to $1.4 billion, or nearly 7 percent of overall state spending.

It caps total spending at $22.3 billion - or a spending increase of 2.8 percent.

The proposed budget is just a recommendation for the General Assembly.

North Carolina Speaker of the House Tim Moore sounded positive about what he heard.

"I applaud Governor McCrory for proposing a budget that contains no tax increases, boosts the savings-reserve account and places an emphasis on rewarding our state's hard-working teachers and state employees," he said.

Senate Leader Phil Berger was also positive.

"Gov. McCrory's balanced budget proposal sets the right tone for controlling the growth of government spending, bolstering the state's Rainy Day Fund and prioritizing teacher pay - all without raising taxes," he said.

McCrory wants to increase pay for state troopers, correctional officers, State Bureau of Investigation agents, Alcohol Law Enforcement agents, assistant district attorneys, and assistant public defenders.

The governor is also calling for $30 million to implement the recommendations of the Governor's Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use, including transitional housing, case management, mental health first aid training, child crisis centers, tools to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic, as well as evidence-based specialty courts, including drug and veteran treatment courts.

He also wants $3 million to expand Medicaid services for older adults, including those with Alzheimer's disease. $2.5 million would go to expand Medicaid services for people with developmental disabilities and children with Autism.

Attorney General Roy Cooper - who is challenging McCrory for his job - said the governor is hurting, not helping, the state.

"Governor McCrory's budget continues with the wrong priorities for our state. There is not enough for our schools, and it will not help every day people whose wages are stagnant. And making things worse, the Governor is driving away hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in revenue with his partisan political agenda," he said.

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