Teachers' pay increase slashed in Senate plan

The N.C. Senate's proposed education budget would boost funding for the University of North Carolina system and give Gov. Mike Easley nearly all the money he sought for his signature preschool initiative.

But it limits pay raises for public school teachers to an average of 3 percent while increasing from Easley's plan the pay raise for state workers, from 1 percent to 2.5 percent.

“We all wanted to do more for teachers, but we all don't want to raise taxes,” said Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth, co-chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Easley wants a nearly 7 percent raise for teachers. He suggested raising the state's cigarette taxes to help pay for it, an unpopular idea for lawmakers facing an election this fall.