State Lawmakers Owe Teachers An Apology for A Gaping $445M Budget Hole after Cutting Taxes for The Wealthy & Corporations
RALEIGH - All across America, Tuesday, May 6th is "Teacher Appreciation Day." But in North Carolina, state lawmakers owe teachers an apology for cutting taxes for the wealthy, failing to raise teacher pay, and now breaking the bank of a budget promise of fiscal responsibility.
Gov. McCrory promised "revenue neutral" tax reform, which would not radically slash state funding for vital services like public education. At McCrory's State of the State address in February of 2013, McCrory said: "We must implement this plan systematically and strategically to insure that we don't put at risk business confidence or crucial revenue needed for services to our citizens."
Oh, what a difference 16-months can make.
Instead, McCrory and Republican lawmakers rammed through reckless tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations. They are now facing a glaring $445M budget hole. They are talking of raiding the rainy-day fund. And they are searching for scapegoats.
They appear to blame federal tax changes which touch all states, but few states face North Carolina's same budget mess. The House Majority Leader, Skip Stam, actually blames smaller class sizes for students. "That is the enemy of teacher compensation," Stam told an education conference this past weekend.
The high-roller tax giveaway now threatens to suck up all the revenue needed to give ALL NC public school teachers the meaningful pay raise that they deserve. The deficit also threatens hopes for a serious multi-year plan to raise NC teacher pay to the national average.
"If Gov. McCrory, Speaker Thom Tillis, and Senator Phil Berger are searching for people to blame for their $445M deficit, they should take a good hard look in the mirror," said Gerrick Brenner, Exec. Director of Progress North Carolina Action. "On Teacher Appreciation Day, all North Carolina teachers deserve a pay raise right now, and they deserve to see a detailed plan to raise their pay to the national average within five years."
North Carolina's teacher pay ranks 46th in the nation, and stories of teachers working second jobs, leaving the state, and leaving the profession are now commonplace. Just last month, Wake Forest Middle School history teacher Joshua Gallagher told his local school board: "When it's 10:30 at night and I'm scrubbing a toilet or cleaning a urinal, I start to think maybe I can do something else and make some more money. It shouldn't be that way."
How is that for teacher appreciation?
Meantime, as the Governor and General Assembly must now fill a $445M budget hole, polls show that the public overwhelmingly supports raises for all teachers and a multi-year plan to raise North Carolina teacher pay to the national average.