$750 bonus is an insult to teachers

Rep. Tim Moore
Rep. Tim Moore

From an editorial in the (Raleigh) News & Observer on Sunday:

Do North Carolina’s Republican legislators really believe that a one-time, before-tax $750 bonus is going to keep teachers in the state and draw more in coming years? That it will cause other state employees to cheer?

This is a state where teacher salaries have been stagnant for six years, where the much-boasted-about raises for beginning teachers have been a point of pride for Republican lawmakers who act as if bringing starting and early-career teachers to the national salary average – while the overall average remains among the nation’s lowest – is some kind of act of monumental generosity.

It’s not. The agreement reached by the House and Senate giving state employees and teachers that bonus is embarrassing. And it is a sad commentary indeed on a virtual collapse by the House and Speaker Tim Moore, who had noble ambitions to spend more money in the wake of a Great Recession from which many residents have yet to recover. Moore and his chamber had wanted to give state employees a 2 percent across-the-board boost, which many haven’t seen in years.

There was a hint from Moore’s office that there would be better raises next year, something state employees couldn’t be blamed for viewing with skepticism. Of course, next year is an election year. Oh, yeah.

The speaker could have made a strong case in advocating a larger raise for state employees and teachers. Moore and his chamber have demonstrated at least a measure of willingness to listen to all views. Berger rules with virtually no tolerance for views other than his own.

This bonus deal represents not consensus or compromise, just the heavy hand of the Senate’s all-powerful leader.