GOP Budget Encourages Experienced Teachers to Leave NC Schools
RALEIGH -- A state budget passed out of the General Assembly Saturday, with Republicans leaning on claims that teachers will get a 7% pay raise. The truth is that funding for teacher pay raises is radically front-loaded, with the state's most experienced teachers getting the smallest raises. In fact, a teacher with 30-years of experience will get only a 1% raise from this budget.
"There's a real sense of confusion," Ann Petitjean, president of the Forsyth Co. Assoc. of Educators told the Winston-Salem Journal. "It certainly looks like they do not value their veteran teachers very much."
The Republican teacher pay scheme is also a bait-and-switch gimmick which gives veteran teachers a raise but also rolls back their traditional longevity pay, a lump sum payment each year based on how long a teacher has served.
"It's unfair that the state gets to take away a benefit we were told we would get after being employed for so many years," Racine Cunningham, a first-grade teacher at Landsdowne Elementary told the Charlotte Observer.
The budget also does virtually nothing to raise North Carolina's abysmal ranking of 48th in the nation in per pupil funding. In fact, since Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senator Berger have taken leadership over the General Assembly in 2011, there are almost 30,000 more students, 3,700 fewer teachers, and 77% less funding for school text books.
Of course, the gross underfunding of public education comes on the heels of dramatic tax giveaways in 2013 which predominantly benefitted corporations and the wealthy. Just the income tax cuts alone created a $680M budget hole as revenue projections did not meet forecasts. Simply put, tax cuts have not led to more revenue.
Even with projections that tax cuts which mostly benefit the wealthy will cost the state $5 BILLION over five-years, another wave of tax cuts for corporations and high income earners is set to take effect January 1st.
"This legislature under Thom Tillis and Phil Berger made a stark choice of cutting taxes for those at the top and continuing to underfund public schools," said Gerrick Brenner, Executive Director of Progress North Carolina Action. “More tax cuts are coming, and our public schools don’t even have enough textbooks for all student to take home every night to help with their homework.”
The budget now goes to Gov. McCrory, who has signaled that he will sign it. Of course, McCrory claimed in his first State of the State Address that so-called “tax reform” "must be revenue neutral." In signing this budget, McCrory would betray those words and everyone who believed him when he promised “tax reform” would not lead to lost revenue, dramatic cuts, and chronic underfunding of public education.