Local News

No Pay Raises for State Employees

Posted June 22, 1996

— June 23, 1996, 10:15 a.m. EDT

The North Carolina General Assembly quickly left town Saturday morning, keeping the state's wallet pinched shut. It decided not to revise the state's two-year budget that runs through June, 1997.

That means the additional l2,000 students entering school in the fall won't have teachers; there's no money to hire them.

That means the state prison system will be without funding to continue to rent out-of-state beds or county jail cells to take the overflow from crowded prisons.

It means the hog farm inspection system put into place this session will be without additional regulators because there's no money to pay them.

And it means state school teachers, professors and employees will not have a pay raise. The effect of the legislature's inaction is expected to propel many employees out of state government. One school teacher said she has been offered $50,000 a year to work for a computer company -- and that figure is twice her teaching salary. More than one-third of the state's schoolteachers give up the profession in their first five years, many of them citing low wages as a key reason.

North Carolina ranks 42nd in teacher salaries. The starting figure is $22,682 in Wake County, forcing many teachers to have roommates and to give up any notion of ever affording their own homes.

University employees are equally upset.

"We've basically gotten nothing for the past several years," said James Smith, a UNC-Chapel Hill economics professor. "I doubt anyone was dumb enough to be counting on anything this year."

The head of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, Troy Green, said, "The two sides certainly appeared pretty far apart when they left. We were disappointed, to say the least.

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