NC House seeks average 5 percent teacher raises

Jun. 10, 2014 @ 10:19 AM

North Carolina public school teachers would get average 5 percent raises without giving up job protections the Senate required for pay increases in the Republican House government spending plan making its way through the chamber this week.

The $21.1 billion spending plan, which will be heard starting Tuesday in House committees, also keeps giving local school districts money to hire teaching assistants in kindergarten through 3rd grade, according to documents outlining budget details and obtained by The Associated Press.

The Senate proposal approved late last month cut the amount designated for teaching assistants almost in half to help pay for pay raises that average more than 11 percent. But the Senate required veteran teachers to agree to end their tenured status to receive the higher salaries.

The House would seek to locate more funds for salaries and other needs through a jump in lottery profits spurred on in part by raising the cap on advertising expenses from 1 percent of overall lottery sales to 2 percent, according to documents.

The House budget would be more in line with Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's spending plan on the public schools by funding his pilot program to determine how best to reward teachers considered the most effective or have additional duties, the documents say. The Senate did not contain the Career Pathways initiative. All three proposals follow through on raising the salary floor for new teachers to $33,000 annually.

Other rank-and-file state employees also would get flat $1,000 salary increases — slightly higher than what McCrory and the Senate offered — in the House plan, which is likely to clear the chamber by Friday. The House and Senate will then work out a final proposal to adjust the second year of the two-year budget approved last summer and give it to McCrory to seek his signature. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

On Medicaid reform, the House proposal steers clear of the Senate's demand that McCrory's administration stop working on a cost-saving initiative that Senate Republicans argue is unworkable and fails to achieve enough savings. The House also declines to trim back the Medicaid eligibility rolls by up to 15,000 people, as the Senate proposed.

The House proposal agrees with the Senate on moving the State Bureau of Investigation from Attorney General Roy Cooper's office to the Department of Public Safety, a Cabinet-level agency run by McCrory. But the State Crime Lab would remain under Cooper. The Senate would move the lab to the department.

According to the documents, the House would find money to expand the number of children to participate in the North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten program, increase funding for child protective services and the state medical examiner's office. All current and future ferry tolling also would be repealed and replaced with a new method to fund capital improvements.