State Budget

Lawmakers voted this summer to eventually eliminate teacher tenure, replacing it with temporary contracts. The State Board of Education will discuss a model contract this week.
cybrarian77 / https://www.flickr.com/photos/cybrarian77/6284181389

 As the state budget is finalized, some critics say they’re skeptical of how the teacher pay raises will pan out.

Under the budget deal, public school teachers will get an average seven percent raise. On the surface, many teachers say that sounds great, but some are worried about what it'll mean for more experienced teachers.

Currently, teachers with more than 10 years of experience receive lump-sum bonuses, which will be eliminated under the new salary plan.

photo of the North Carolina Senate
Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC / Flickr

After spending a month dragging their feet on the state budget, lawmakers are now in a 48-hour race to wrap it up and go home. The $21.1 billion budget before them is a hefty 260-page document filled with hundreds of edits, figures and calculations.  But for many Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow), one item stands out.

“The priority of this session was education and, in particular, teacher pay,” Brown said.

photo of NC Legislature
creative commons

    

Senate and House leaders have announced the framework of their $21 billion dollar state budget deal. One of the biggest sticking points was over teacher pay; the compromise offers public school teachers an average seven percent raise. Senate leader Phil Berger touted the plan at a press conference earlier today.

"The $282 million dollars invested in teacher pay with this budget will be the largest teacher pay increase in state history, moving North Carolina from 46th in the nation to 32nd in the nation in national teacher pay rankings," Berger said.

NC Legislative Building
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

 Nearly a month past their deadline, state leaders say they hope to release a final spending plan adjustment in the next couple of days.

Top negotiators haven't officially released any details yet, but they expect to give teachers average raises of about 7 percent. 

Governor McCrory talks with reporters at legislative building
Jessica Jones

 Governor Pat McCrory says that he and Republican leaders are making headway on resolving differences over the state budget.

He made an unusual visit to the legislature Thursday where he says he touched base and continued dialogue with lawmakers. McCrory says he spent more than an hour and a half talking with Senate leaders this week.

“I did present both the Senate and House caucuses, I think, breakthrough plans on how to work out our differences,” he said.

Lawmakers voted this summer to eventually eliminate teacher tenure, replacing it with temporary contracts. The State Board of Education will discuss a model contract this week.
cybrarian77 / https://www.flickr.com/photos/cybrarian77/6284181389

  The Houston Independent School District is looking to recruit more teachers from North Carolina.

Recruiters first visited in May, where they made 12 on-the-spot offers and later hired about 8 more teachers, according to Shaleah Reed, a spokesperson from HISD.

The district is offering $49,100 as a starting salary. North Carolina’s starting salary is among the lowest in the nation at $30,800.

NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

  

Despite sluggish negotiations over the past two weeks, state lawmakers are taking small steps toward a budget deal. 

The House and Senate are working on compromises for teacher raises and Medicaid spending. They are also considering ways to reform the Medicaid system, including treatment from managed care organizations. 

Meanwhile, lawmakers passed a bill to review and possibly replace Common Core standards.

General Assembly
Dave DeWitt

Leaders in the state Senate have offered an eight percent pay raise for teachers as they inch closer to putting together a budget.

Senate leaders unveiled their offer to House budget negotiators late Tuesday afternoon. Senators had previously wanted to give educators raises of 11 percent, but House leaders said such a large increase would require cutting too many other areas.

Classroom
WUNC File Photo

State lawmakers still can’t come to an agreement over how large of a pay raise they want to give public school teachers.

House leaders want to give teachers an average six percent raise, while Senate leaders want to give them about 11 percent. But the Senate plan would cut more than 6,000 teacher assistant jobs to help pay for that larger salary boost. 

It’s a concession that many school leaders say they can’t get behind. They want raises, but not by laying off thousands of teacher assistants.

NC General Assembly; State Legislature.
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House and Senate leaders are back in Raleigh today to try to resolve large differences in their spending plans for the year. 

They're now two weeks past their deadline, as they've been at odds over how much to pay teachers and at what cost. Senators want to give large raises of about 11 percent, but they would pay for them in part by cutting more than 6,000 teacher assistants. 

House leaders have been adamant about providing more modest raises without laying off any educators or impacting the state's Medicaid health insurance program.

North Carolina legislative building
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Republican lawmakers have been moving slowly on state budget negotiations. They finally reached a compromise Wednesday on how much revenue they will rely on from the state lottery. But that came after hours of finger-pointing and debate over other education issues, including teacher pay.

Before negotiations even began on Wednesday morning, the mood felt sour. Senate leaders weren’t happy that the House had invited school leaders to argue against cutting teacher assistant jobs. Senator Harry Brown objected before the guests could even make their way to the podium.

North Carolina State Legislature
Dave Crosby / Flickr

  Budget writers in the General Assembly are moving forward with their negotiations, but it's still not clear when they might finish putting together a spending plan adjustment for the fiscal year that has already begun.

In an open conference committee Tuesday afternoon, legislators didn't reach an agreement on the size of teacher raises, though Senate budget writers have agreed to allow teachers to receive raises without forgoing career status protections. 

North Carolina Legislative building
NC General Assembly

North Carolina lawmakers say they'll have a busy next few days hashing out differences in their state budget plans.

It's likely there will be fewer lawmakers roaming around the legislative building this week. A select group of Senate and House negotiators are expected to hunker down and focus on the state's spending plan. They'll need to resolve differences in their adjustments to the budget for this fiscal year.

North Carolina State Legislature
Dave Crosby / Flickr

 After weeks of almost no budget talks, state lawmakers finally agreed to break their deadlock.  At a public conference committee meeting on Wednesday, they openly negotiated their adjustments to the two-year budget plan and seemingly resolved differences over Medicaid funding.

NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

North Carolina lawmakers say they want to break the impasse on a state budget this week. But those aren’t the only bills on their docket.

Leaders in the Senate and the House have been talking about Common Core and Coal Ash since they started meeting in May.

The Senate wants to consider keeping parts of Common Core, the national academic standards for public school students. The House wants to completely replace them.

NC Senate committee
Jessica Jones

Governor McCrory and leaders in the state House are trying to speed up budget negotiations, but without much success so far. They’ve introduced a bill that’s a kind of mini-budget to give teachers 5 percent raises in case House and Senate leaders can’t agree on a comprehensive spending plan. But the biggest sticking point in the negotiations is over Medicaid. Thursday morning, State Budget Director Art Pope appeared before a Senate Finance Committee to answer senators’ questions.

Photo: The North Carolina General Assembly's Legislative Building
Jorge Valencia

Governor Pat McCrory and leaders in the state House have released a bill that would serve as a scaled-down budget proposal. The move is meant to shake up a slow budget process.

House Budget Appropriations Chair Nelson Dollar explained Senate Bill 3 to a packed conference room earlier today. Dollar said among other things, the measure would give teachers an average five-percent pay raise and state employees a $1,000 raise plus benefits.
 

Iron Man
flickr

Film and television production companies in North Carolina currently receive tax refunds of 25 percent if they spend $250,000 or more. The incentives expire at the end of the year unless the General Assembly reinstates them in the budget. Critics say the incentives are too high given a number of permanent jobs the industry creates. But a report commissioned by industry players shows the state receives a positive return on its entertainment investment. 

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Senate and House leaders are expected to begin meeting in conference committees this week to make adjustments to the two-year budget plan. 

They have until June 30th to resolve differences and send their spending plan to Governor Pat McCrory.

Medicaid funding and teacher pay raises are expected to be the key sticking points in negotiations. But many Republicans, like Representative Craig Horn (R-Union), say they’re optimistic about the process.

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