Governor wants 18% teacher pay hike; GOP calls budget plan “reckless and unrealistic”

Gov. Cooper unveiled his state budget proposal Wednesday morning.
Gov. Cooper unveiled his state budget proposal Wednesday morning.(NBC)
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 2:30 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) - Governor Roy Cooper released his budget proposal for the next two years on Wednesday calling for 18% pay raises for educators and investments in state employee raises, mental health, and public safety. It drew an immediate rebuke from Republican leadership at the General Assembly.

Under the governor’s proposal, the state would increase teacher pay by an average of 10% this year with an additional 6% in 2024 as well as increase the starting salary for a first-year teacher to $46,000. Cooper says it would make North Carolina the top-paying school for teachers in the Southeast and 16th in the nation. The proposal also includes an increase of 9.5% for other public school employees.

The proposal drew the immediate ire of legislative GOP leaders who called it unrealistic and reckless.

Senate Leader Phil Berger said Cooper’s budget was an unserious proposal claiming that Governor Cooper wanted to go on a reckless spending spree. Likewise, House Speaker Tim Moore called the proposal unrealistic, saying the General Assembly would continue on the same fiscal path for North Carolina that it has followed for the past decade under GOP leadership.

In addition to increases in teacher pay, the proposal calls for a 5% pay increase for all state employees in 2023 with an additional increase of 3% in 2024. The Governor is also asking for additional funding for hard-to-fill jobs.

According to the Governor’s Office, the proposal leaves nearly $7 billion in reserve in case of an economic downturn.

North Carolina’s budget for 2023-2024 is supposed to take effect on July 1st but has often been delayed due to disputes and vetoes.