The N.C. House voted 103-12 Wednesday in favor of its $22.225 billion budget that provides an income tax cut and raises for teachers and state employees.
While some Democrats said the spending plan – which represents a 2.3 percent increase over the current fiscal year – is too conservative, it drew more support from minority party legislators than any other budget since Republicans took control in 2011.
“I sense a great bipartisan agreement on this budget,” said Rep. Nelson Dollar of Cary, the House’s lead budget writer. “This budget is a responsible budget that does fund our critical needs, it does plan for the future, and it does most assuredly move this state forward.”
Teachers would get a pay raise of up to 5 percent, and most other state employees would get a 2 percent raise under the House budget plan.
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House Republican leaders also included a tax cut proposed by Senate leaders. The standard deduction for personal income taxes would increase by up to $2,000, gradually over a period of four years starting in 2017. That would bring the standard deduction for a married couple filing jointly from $15,500 this year to $17,500 in 2020.
In addition to 2 percent raises, state employees would get a $500 one-time bonus that wouldn’t count toward their retirement. State retirees would get a 1.6 percent cost-of-living increase – a boost that wasn’t included in the governor’s spending plan.
Teachers would get more than other state employees under the House plan. The teacher raise would average 4.1 percent and bring the average teacher salary to $50,000 over the next two years.
Teachers with less than five years of experience wouldn’t get a raise this year, and teachers with 25 years or more would get 2 percent – the smallest raises. Teachers in both those categories would instead receive a $1,000 bonus that would count toward their retirement.
The biggest teacher raises – 5 percent – would go to teachers with 10 to 14 years of experience. Teachers with five to nine years would get 4.1 percent, teachers with 15-19 years would get 3.4 percent, and teachers with 20-24 years would get 3.2 percent.
House Democratic Leader Larry Hall of Durham said the state needs to do more for teachers. “We do not have a discernible plan to get our teachers and our education personnel to or above the national average” in pay, he said. “At this rate, we won’t make it there anytime soon.”
The House will hold a final vote on the budget Thursday morning to send the bill to the Senate.