Budget bill that includes big raises for top elected officials gets OK from the Senate
The state Senate has given initial approval to its budget bill for the coming year.
The roughly $30 billion spending proposal includes personal income tax cuts and raises of about 2.5% for most state employees and teachers. Wednesday’s vote was 36-13 with the majority of the Senate Democrats voting no.
Republicans shot down a series of amendments from Democrats. Those included a repeal of corporate income tax cuts and a proposal to fund bulletproof backpacks in schools.
While most state employees would get a 2.5% raise next year, the Senate offers a much bigger raise to the governor: A 20% raise, bringing his total pay to nearly $200,000 a year.
It’s an odd move for the GOP given that the current governor is a Democrat. Other statewide elected officials, including the lieutenant governor, attorney general and state treasurer, would also get raises much larger than rank-and-file government workers.
They’d get raises of 7.5% next year, plus an additional 7.5% the following, bringing their annual salaries to $168,384. The raises were first reported by The News & Observer.
Senate leader Phil Berger defended the raises for the state’s top leaders. He says budget writers compared salaries with similar positions in other states, and North Carolina is an outlier on state leader salaries.
"It was all about trying to get those salaries to some sort of reasonable parity to what we saw in other places," Berger said.
Senators stopped short of giving themselves a raise. Legislator pay will remain at about $14,000 a year, and Berger says there's not much interest in changing that in his chamber.
The House budget has much smaller raises for the governor and state leaders.
A final vote is set for Thursday before the Senate begins final budget negotiations with the House.