(The Center Square) – Despite the COVID-19 economic fallout, some state workers in North Carolina will get pay raises Wednesday with the start of the new fiscal year, including Gov. Roy Cooper.
Four laws go into effect Wednesday that provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in pay increases for state leaders; public safety employees; corrections, highway patrol and police officers; and other state workers.
Analysts from the legislative Fiscal Research Division and the North Carolina Office of State Budget estimated in their latest economic forecast for the state that revenue collections over the biennium could drop by $4.9 billion – or 8.4 percent.
According to the predictions, the state expected to end the 2019-2020 fiscal year Tuesday with $1.64 billion less in the General Fund than what was previously forecast. In 2020-2021, North Carolina is expected to take another $2.57 billion hit.
Included in the list of pay increases are 2.5 percent raises for the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and the other members of the Council of State, and certain officials in the executive and judicial branches.
Cooper's salary will go from $150,969 annually to $154,743 annually.
The lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer and auditor, superintendent of public instruction, agriculture, insurance and labor commissioners each would receive an annual salary of $136,669 for 2021. That's more than a $3,000 raise for each official and a total of $30,000 from state coffers.
Chairs of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, state controller and the members of state review boards are expected to get pay raises that account for a total increase of $30,000. Public defenders, state attorneys and chief justices of the state courts also will get raises.
Also starting Wednesday, the Division of Motor Vehicles will be replacing regular registration plates that are seven years old or older. Special registration plate replacements will begin July 1, 2021.
Another new law effective Wednesday also will exempt educational digital content from sales tax.
The exemption applies to products purchased for homeschooling and live-stream lessons, such as exercise or music classes and financial planning seminars. Pre-recorded or on-demand webinars still would be taxable.
The law has become more relevant as the coronavirus outbreak has called for remote learning measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.