Senate GOP proposes larger NC teacher pay plan than House, McCrory

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Lawmakers discuss boosting teacher pay.

North Carolina Senate Republicans are proposing a teacher pay plan that promises to exceed what Gov. Pat McCrory and House members are offering. Details on how the Senate would pay for the plan are unclear. They did not say if the proposal includes raises for other state employees.

Senate leader Phil Berger said Wednesday the chamber's budget adjustments unveiled next week will recommend salary increases that Berger said would raise the state average - including local supplements - above $51,000 for the next school year. Berger said the Senate would also push to get the average above $54,000 in the 2017-18 school year.

"We think that this is something that's fully within the capacity of the state of North Carolina in terms of the budget availability, and we think it sets the right priorities," said Berger.

Berger said the economy and state government's fiscal picture are strong enough to pay for the two-year, $538 million plan without tax increases. He says the Senate budget proposal wouldn't exceed an overall spending limit agreed to with the House.

Under the plan, the average North Carolina teacher would receive a permanent $4,700 raise.

Beginning teachers would reach the top of the pay scale in 15 years, about half the amount of time than under the current system.

Senate leaders said the move would catapult North Carolina to 24th in the nation for teacher pay and number one in the Southeast.

Lawmakers offered few details on how they planned to pay for the raises.

"We've heard this before, particularly from the Senate, about raising us up to the national average, so we're very skeptical particularly during election years and we're still 41st in the country," said NCAE Vice President Mark Jewell.

Jewell said the short-term plan does not go far enough to keep teachers in the classroom.

Read the teacher pay proposal (must submit an email address)

Under the proposal, maximum salaries would be capped for North Carolina's most veteran teachers.

"They're not going to get a raise for the rest of their careers. Why would they stay in North Carolina?" Said Logan Smith, ProgressNC spokesperson.

The full Senate budget is expected to be released Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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