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Where The Governor And Legislature's Budgets Differ On Education

Since the recession, school districts are increasingly relying on donors and foundations, like the Guilford Education Alliance, to stock their classrooms.
Jess Clark

It's the second time Democratic Governor Roy Cooper is proposing a budget to the General Assembly, but this time he has some negotiating power. Last time, the Republican legislature had a veto-proof majority, but now the two groups will have to find a compromise.

Here are the main similarities and differences between the Governor's and legislature's budget proposals for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 years as they relate to K-12 education so far.

Master's Degree Teacher Pay

Both Governor Roy Cooper's and the General Assembly's budgets would restore higher pay to teachers with a Master's degree in the subjects they teach. In 2013 the Republican-led legislature took away the 10 percent pay increase that existed for teachers.

Master's pay was one of the topics teachers said they were protesting when thousands of teachers and advocates gathered in Raleigh for a protest in May.

Tier Payment System

Currently, teachers receive raises in "steps" based on the number of years of experience. Some years, a teacher will receive a raise and in others the teacher wouldn't.

Governor Roy Cooper proposes ending the tiered pay system and giving each teacher a raise each year.

The House and Senate differ on who to raise pay for, but both only choose a section of teachers. The House's proposed budget would raise pay for teachers making more than $45,500 and the Senate's would raise pay for younger teachers with lower pay.

Support Staff Pay

Last year, the General Assembly raised the minimum salary for state workers to about $15 an hour, but declined to raise wages for people who have similar positions within public schools.

Previously, classified employees at public schools raises were linked with people who work similar jobs in state buildings. In public schools, classified employees include counselors, substitute teachers, janitorial staff and other behind the scenes positions.

Cooper's proposal would move pay toward $15 an hour for support staff in public schools.

Looking Ahead

The legislature and Governor have until July 1 to pass a budget, or they could pass a bill to extend the current budget for a few days, weeks or months if they can't find common ground by then.

Cole del Charco is WUNC’s morning reporter. He’s worked for WUNC since 2019.
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