State News

Easley pans House budget proposal

Posted June 3, 2008

— Gov. Mike Easley says Tuesday that he's perplexed by House Democrats who rolled out a budget that he says retreats on education, particularly on teacher pay.

"It's not only unacceptable, it's puzzling to me how they can be so far off the mark," Easley said during a news conference.

The $21.5 billion budget cleared the House Finance Committee on Tuesday morning and passed the Appropriations Committee in the afternoon. The full House was expected to debate and vote on the budget Wednesday and Thursday before sending the proposal to the Senate.

House Democrats said they didn't have enough money to provide 7 percent raises for teachers, which Easley wanted. Instead, they gave 3 percent raises.

"We think we've done the best with what we have. The fight is not over yet," said Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham. "We're doing the best with what we've got. Nobody's in a frame of mind to raise any taxes or anything like that."

Easley, who isn't running for re-election, proposed increasing cigarette taxes to pay for teacher raises and raising the tax on alcohol and beer to generate more money for mental health programs.

Not providing a 7 percent raise to push the average teacher's salary in North Carolina to the national average breaks a promise to educators statewide, he said.

"Just because you run up on a stump economically, you can't short the teachers. An economic shortfall can't be an education shortfall," he said.

Other state employees would receive a 2.75 percent raise or $1,100 under the House budget proposal or a 1.5 percent raise and a $1,000 bonus under Easley's spending plan. Erica Baldwin, a spokeswoman for the State Employees Association of North Carolina, said government workers aren't thrilled with either proposal.

"The cost of everything is rising and its just not keeping pace with inflation and the market rate," Baldwin said.

Easley also told reporters that he's concerned about how the proposed spending plan doesn't give enough to the More at Four program. More money also is needed for expected enrollment increases at University of North Carolina campuses, he said.

Mental health funding was another point of contention between the two budget plans. Easley wanted to cut $31 million from the current spending plan – to be replaced by other programs – while the House proposal outlines $86 million in savings.


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  • OncomingStorm Jun 3, 2008

    The Legislature isn't held by its promises from last year, but it is nonetheless interesting that revenue from last year's tax increases, earmarked to pay for additional court workers and services, is being budgeted for other purposes. That money was to go toward additional court clerks and assistant district attorneys. Do the right thing guys- spend the money where you said it was going to go.

  • civilservant01 Jun 3, 2008

    Gov Mike...needs to crawl back into his hole!! His days are almost done, thank goodness. We certainly couldn't take four more years of his unthankful attitude for state gov. workers. We can't possibly survive on the raises that he has proposed each year. Ofcourse, not all state workers deserve a raise either, same goes for not all teachers too. The system is broken. Only the hard workers in both gov and schools should be rewarded. Rewarded for actual results attained within their positions that merit increases based on outstanding job performance. All workers deserve a cost of living (COLA) increase, but not all state workers/teachers deserve the same amount. This is the problem with raises. Everyone gets one and it's usually low $ and not very rewarding for us "hard working" state workers who deserve more. Sadly we're all lumped together. Thus spreading the $$ out to everyone even those who aren't deserving, which is unfortunate.

  • coolwill Jun 3, 2008

    This government could save millions of dollars if it stops supporting illegal immigrants and their anchor babies. There is still nothing on the books to slow the population of illegal immigrants. How many legal US citizens go with-out that could have qualified for government assistances just to be turned down because there is no money left? Please do not conceder growth without removing illegal immigrants from the picture, and stop calling them undocumented workers. The federal government has cut funding to some mental institutions while you are in office, now the state taxpayers have to fund the hold bill. Please take your medicine Easley and just leave. What was just posted in the N&O $400 million dollars was wasted? Don’t ask me for a Penney more.

  • Plenty Coups Jun 3, 2008

    Big UNC fan. Your post is full of inaccuracies. Teachers are paid for ten months. Those two months off are UNPAID. That is when we plan and attend classes to keep our certification up to date as well as work part time jobs. All other teachers I know are continually updating our lesson plans and making them better. The curriculum also changes. I do agree that other state employees deserve a raise. By the way, teacher pay is about 5 thousand dollars less than other jobs that require a college degree even allowing for those summers off.

  • Corvus Jun 3, 2008

    Mr. Easley only cares about Teachers and the More at Four program. More at Four is the same as Smart Start. The state should only fund one or the other, not both. If you cut one of the programs, there would be enough money for better raises across the board for ALL State Employees.

  • pbjbeach Jun 3, 2008

    This governor could care less about state employees as a whole all he is concerned about is his political buddies that have wifes that are teacher or adminstrators in a school system soemwhere in the state an he is just using the slogan of more pay to justify just that more pay for his buddies wifes thank you

  • NCMOMof3 Jun 3, 2008

    what if we cut the pay if some of our government officials and used that to fund pay increases for state employees? Based upon merit, that is.

  • NC is my home Jun 3, 2008

    Easley forgets that other State Employees deserve raises too. Tearchers don't do a better job. Kids can't even read, make change, communicate properly! Why should a faulty system be rewarded?

  • BE Jun 3, 2008

    Is our Governor at all concerned about how State Employees and those who have retired are going to keep paying higher and higher prices for most everything on a 1.5% (less for retirees) increase in pay? Duh!? Thanks goodness for members of the General Assembly who realize the real world and hopefully will make the right choices for a decent increase in pay and retirement. Yep, I know there are folks who has just as soon cut pay and retirement.

  • whatusay Jun 3, 2008

    Sorry I asked...I thought the education lottery was supposed to help our education system...but, I must have been wrong because we need more money since it was introduced to the citizens of NC. Whay was the purpose of the "EDUCATION LOTTERY"?