Raleigh, N.C. — It's official.
Gov. Pat McCrory has signed the 2013 tax bill into law. The measure lowers corporate and personal income taxes, but falls short of the more sweeping reform some legislative leaders envisioned at the beginning of the year.
Critics, mainly Democrats and liberal policy groups, have lambasted the tax bill as draining resources from state government. They point to a state budget poised to be passed this week that contains no raises for state employees or teachers as a consequence of the tax measure.
"This tax reform will give teachers making approximately $40,000 to $45,000 a 1 percent increase in take-home pay," McCrory said. "That's good news for teachers."
That doesn't seem to be borne out by either the tax or budget bills. It would take most teachers without special master's degrees or national board certifications roughly 15-to-20 years to hit a rung on the salary schedule that would have them earning $40,000.
"I am a 5th year teacher in Jackson County. I make $30,800. I take home less than I did when I started teaching. I don't really think I will ever make $40,000 a year unless I move to another state," said Leigh Ayling, an K-through-8 art teacher.
WRAL asked via Twitter and Facebook how long teacher thought it would take to reach $40,000 in salary. Several asked that their names not be used.
Many who responded were in their fourth or fifth year of teaching and still getting paid the $30,800 per year a starting teacher makes due to salary freezes.
A few who worked for bigger school districts said they went up the salary ladder more quickly.
"When I moved to teach in Wake County, I was hired at just under $40,000 in 2002, but I came in with two master's degree already earned and 6 years of job experience," said one teacher who asked not to be named. "Today I earn approximately $59,000, but am a single parent with a disabled adult child for whom I am responsible."
Even given that, said that teacher, she is considering leaving the state for other jurisdictions friendlier to teachers.
Far more common were answers like one from Amanda Pierce of Martin County.
"I still haven't hit $40,000 and I have been teaching for nine years and have earned a Master's Degree and National Board Certification. I also receive additional salary incentives for serving as the countywide support coach for new teachers and serve as a mentor to new teachers," said Pierce, who teaches second grade.
Most of the 30-plus teachers who responded as of 5:10 p.m. said it would take them at least 15 years to reach $40,000 in annual salary. Several teachers replied saying they don't foresee a time when they will be paid more than $40,000 per year.
"Five years at $30,800 - the lowest rung on the pay ladder - and this will be my last year," said Tiffany McEachern, a high school science teacher in Wilmington. "I love what I do, but I can't continue to struggle to make ends meet."
McEachern said she is going back to school to become a nurse practitioner.
"I really don't think it matters how much attention this subject gets, the policy makers that are in office have their set agenda and I don't see them deviating from that agenda, unfortunately," she said.
Also, according to tables posted with the tax reform bill, a married couple filing jointly with two kids and $40,000 in income won't save 1 percent on their taxes. A 1 percent tax break for that family doesn't come about unless the household earns $250,000 per year or more. A household earning $100,000 per year with two children would save $364, or 0.4 percent.
McCrory held the bill signing at the Executive Mansion, complete with bill signing tropes such as handing pens used to sign the documents to lawmakers who authored the bill and key administration officials, such as Budget Director Art Pope and Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker.