Cooper vetoes teacher pay raises calling them "paltry"

RALEIGH, NC (WITN) - Calling the raises "paltry", Gov. Roy Cooper said this morning he is vetoing the teacher pay raise bill, along with several others.

Flanked by teachers, the Democratic governor called on the GOP-controlled state legislature to make meaningful raises a priority for educators.

"I will negotiate the pay raises of teachers and other educators separate and apart from Medicaid expansion," Gov. Cooper said. "I urge all legislators from both parties to help us come together and support our teachers."

Cooper this summer vetoed the original state budget, and lawmakers have been passing individual funding bills to get around that.

Republicans were quick to criticize the veto. "Governor Cooper uses teachers as pawns, blocking their pay increases then trying to convince them it's all the Republicans' fault," said Senate Leader Phil Berger. "At some point, they'll see his cynical ploy for what it really is."

"His refusal to raise teacher pay in favor of playing political games on separate issues is causing real harm to educators' families, who benefitted immensely from pay raises until he took office and began blocking them to pursue his other priorities," House Speaker Tim Moore said in a statement.

But Cooper said he's willing to negotiate teacher raises separate from Medicaid expansion, which has been a main focus for the governor.

Among the other bills Cooper vetoed was one that would reduce the franchise tax for corporations.