House proposes small raises for teachers, state workers

Posted May 16, 2016 8:06 p.m. EDT
Updated May 16, 2016 9:16 p.m. EDT

A shot of the entrance area to the N.C. Legislative Building.

— The House's full 2016 budget proposal, made public Monday night, calls for small compensation increases and bonuses for teachers and state employees, as well as a small cost-of-living increase for retirees and a small increase in the standard deduction for state income tax.

"We've had some growth in recurring funds, but a large share of the recurring funds we have available come from better management of the Medicaid program," said Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, the chief budget writer for the House. "We were able to repurpose those funds for salary increases."

State and state-funded local employees would receive a 2 percent raise, and most would also receive a $500 bonus. Those who are due for a step increase would get the step increase, but not the bonus.

Assistant district attorneys and assistant public defenders would receive a 3 percent raise.

State retirees would receive a 1.6 percent cost-of-living increase.

Teachers would receive a raise of around 3 percent, depending on their position on the salary schedule and classification. Those at the bottom and top of the pay scale would receive $1,000 bonuses, to be paid out monthly over the course of the year.

Tier 1 (beginning) teachers, who got the majority of teacher raises last year, would not get a raise this year. They would, however, get the $1,000 bonus. Tier 2 would get a 4.1 percent increase, Tier 3 would get 5 percent, Tier 4 would get 3.4 percent and Tier 5 would get 3.2 percent. Tier 6, the most senior teachers, would receive a 2 percent raise plus the $1,000 bonus.

Central office staff and non-certified school personnel would receive a 2 percent raise.

Dollar said the average teacher raise would be closer to 4 percent – slightly smaller than the 5 percent average in Gov. Pat McCrory's proposed budget. Dollar said the "bell curve" across the different tiers is intended to address retention and salary compression issues.

"We are moving very close to the governor's $50,000 threshold for average teacher compensation, which does include local supplements," Dollar said. "In the House budget, we do not quite get there, but we will get there in the second year"

"Ultimately," he added, "the House's goal is to see us be at or above the average teacher salary for the Southeast."

The proposed budget also calls for a small increase in the standard deduction for the state income tax, beginning in tax year 2017. Married couples filing jointly could deduct $16,000, rather than $15,500. The deduction for a single filer would go from $7,750 to $8,000.

Under the plan laid out in the budget, the standard deduction would increase by the same amounts in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

House Bill 1030 is scheduled to be debated in the House Finance and Appropriations committees Tuesday. Leaders say they hope to hold floor votes on the spending plan Thursday and Friday, sending it to the Senate by the end of the week.