‘A slap in the face’: Some state employees unhappy with state budget proposal

State budget proposal doesn’t sit well with state employees
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 7:28 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Legislative Republicans rolled out their proposed new state budget Tuesday, calling for pay raises for state employees and a small new pay bump for teachers.

Some state employees were less than happy with the proposal.

“It’s a true slap in the face. There’s almost four and a half billion dollars extra surplus money in the budget. There’s already 2 1/2 percent baked in that people were going to get on July 1st anyway,” Ardis Watkins, State Employees Association director said.

Watkins shared some of the areas that state employees feel the budget most misses the mark on.

“Public services. People aren’t going to bring their businesses here if we have poor schools, bad university systems. We don’t have public employees to actually do the jobs taxpayers are paying for,” Watkins said.

Current tax adjustments from last year’s budget are another area the NC Budget & Tax Center sees as a long-term threat to the state economy.

“Our analysis shows that altogether, once those changes are implemented in the state, they will reduce our state revenue by eight billion dollars every year,” Suzy Khachaturyan of the tax center said.

Khachaturyan said this is about 20% of state revenue.

Tuesday’s budget proposal gives state employees a 3.5% raise and teachers a 1% raise, without much change to the current tax situation.

It reinforces the concern for employment shortages in state public service positions.

“The employees are leaving in droves every day. And if we don’t keep them from leaving, we’ve got a public safety problem that is huge,” Watkins said.

“We have prisons at over 50% staff vacancy rates. We have HHS facilities caring for our most vulnerable citizens that do not have enough people to operate the facilities. We have a dire problem that’s going to affect the lives of North Carolinians. They need to spend the money.”

Ardis Watkins, State Employees Association director

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