Budget Battle: GOP plan finds money for principal raises, not teachers

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's almost Halloween and North Carolina lawmakers are still debating about how much money to pay North Carolina teachers as the now 4-month long budget stalemate between Governor Roy Cooper and Republicans slogs on.

Wednesday, Republican budget writers rolled out a new plan for some state educators. The proposal would fund base pay increases for school principals. It also includes money to pay for step increases, the yearly $1000 dollar pay bumps that teachers with less than 15 years' experience receive.

But those step increases are mandated by state statute. And this plan does not include any money for teacher base salaries.

"This does nothing for our most-experienced educators," said North Carolina Educators Association President Mark Jewell, decidedly unimpressed by the GOP proposal. "It's not the significant raise that the governor put forward. It does nothing for our lowest-paid workers -- our teacher assistants and bus drivers. And, assistant principals were left out as well. So, this is clearly inadequate."

After today's committee hearing, Republicans pledged to revisit teacher base salaries soon.

"This was the step (increases) that teachers should have gotten to start the school year. We just thought we need to go ahead and take care of this piece of it," said Onslow County Republican Senator Harry Brown.

Brown and his fellow Republican budget writers are laying the blame for the budget battle squarely on Governor Cooper's shoulders. They insist Cooper vetoed the GOP-backed spending plan in June because Republicans refused to allow for Medicaid expansion in the state.

But it's not that simple. The veto also has a lot to do with teacher pay. Cooper has proposed an eight and a half percent salary increase for teachers. The two sides are nowhere close on that.

This newest GOP plan still needs another vote in committee before it moves to the floor for debate. ABC11 has learned a comparison plan from House Republicans could emerge as soon as Thursday.

Meanwhile, North Carolina teachers are now two months into the new school year, and still wait for a raise.
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