Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory said Wednesday that raising pay for beginning teachers is the top priority for his education budget for the upcoming year.
During a meeting of the Governor's Education Cabinet in Raleigh, McCrory and other state education leaders rolled out his budget priorities for education in the upcoming year.
Eric Guckian, the governor’s education adviser, said the administration will ask state lawmakers to raise base K-12 teacher pay to $35,000 by 2015. It’s currently $30,800, lower than any surrounding state.
"The first step of that will occur in the short session” this summer, Guckian added.
The next item on the governor’s list is a pay increase for teachers, educators and other state employees “in accordance with available revenue.” However, McCrory warned, it may not happen this year.
"The budget is very tight still,"he cautioned. "Medicaid continues to be a very tough issue."
Other education leaders and agency heads outlined their respective priorities as well.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, also representing the State Board of Education, listed educator salary increases and more funding for textbooks and instructional materials.
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos, who oversees pre-kindergarten and child care programs, said her agency would focus on expanding slots for the 1,915 at-risk 4-year-olds on the waiting list for those programs.
University of North Carolina President Tom Ross listed higher pay for faculty and staff, as well as repealing a tuition increase for out-of-state students and rolling back program reductions made in recent years.
North Carolina Community College System President Scott Ralls made a pitch for higher salaries as well. He said community college instructors in North Carolina rank 41st in pay in the country and 12th in the Southeast.
McCrory said more budget recommendations would be forthcoming over the next few weeks as current and projected Medicaid spending numbers become clearer.
"We’re waiting this year longer than we waited last year so we can get the latest up-to-date data," he said. "There are a lot of difficult choices."