North Carolina senators have pushed forward teacher pay raise legislation amid the ongoing budget squabble in the state.
The Senate Committee on Appropriations/Base Budget recommended a bill on Wednesday that will give school teachers and other instructional staff and educators pay increases based on experience.
“As conversations continue about teacher raises, we’re passing legislation to unfreeze teacher salaries so they can finally get the increases they were promised last year,” said Sen. Deanna Ballard, a member of the committee.
Disagreement over the amount for teacher pay raises has been one of the issues stalling the state's $24 billion budget vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper in late June. The budget proposal gave teachers a 3.8 percent raise and a bonus within two years. In his counteroffer, Cooper proposed an 8.5 percent pay raise over the next two years.
The governor met with a group of teachers in Dixon, North Carolina, Monday to talk about the contention over the raises.
“Our teachers deserve not just a significant pay raise, but also our respect,” he said. “Right now, teachers haven’t gotten raises because Republican legislators won’t negotiate with me and won’t respond to my balanced budget compromise proposal that included a significant teacher pay raise.”
However, the Teacher Step Act, introduced by Republican Reps. John R. Bell, Kyle Hall, Jeffrey Elmore and Debra Conrad will retroactively pay teachers and other instructors $3,500 to $5,200 more depending on how many years they have been teaching.
A beginning teacher’s salary in North Carolina averaged $37,631 for the 2017-2018 school year, according to the National Education Association. New teachers could be paid more than $40,000 if the bill passes.
North Carolina currently ranks 29th in the nation for teacher pay and second in the Southeast, according to the NEA.
The bill also gives additional raises and bonuses to principals, assistant principals, school nurses as well as new teachers entering the field with a GPA of 3.75 or higher.
The Teacher Step Act will still have to be approved by the full Senate Chamber and again in the House before it lands on Cooper’s desk.