Piecemeal Budget Turns To Education

Oct 23, 2019

Colavito Tyson is a teacher assistant at Nash-Rocky Mount Schools. She came to the May #Red4Ed march in Raleigh carrying this sign that she says she's had for years, from another educators' march calling for more school funding years ago.
Credit Liz Schlemmer / WUNC/file photo

As part of their piecemeal budget approach, state lawmakers are turning attention to education funding.

There is still no new state budget. And that means public school teachers did not receive raises. A mini-budget advancing at the state legislature would authorize a $1,000 bump for teachers with fewer than 15 years of experience, known as a "step" increase. It also appropriates raises to principals.

Senate majority leader Harry Brown called it unfair for educators to be penalized for the impasse.

"It's not fair to teachers to not get their step increases because of the climate we're in here and I don't think it's fair for principals not to get what they deserve because of the climate we're at," he said. "So I think we need to do those things and move that forward and we'll continue to have conversations on some of the other things that we disagree on."

Democrats, however, still disagree with the process of passing these small budgets.

"I can't agree to piecemealing – I can't agree on that," said Guilford County Democrat Gladys Robinson.

The legislature approved a 3.8% raise for teachers in the budget vetoed by Governor Roy Cooper. His budget proposal called for raises that were more than double (8.5%) that figure. Meanwhile legislators gave initial approval to a bill appropriating money for employee raises in the Community College and UNC System. The bill allocates $37.2 million for community college workers and $45 million for staff at the UNC System. Lawmakers have already approved a dozen smaller spending measures for largely non-controversial priorities as a compromise in lieu of agreement on the vetoed budget.