@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

NC controller gives NCAE until Feb. 1 to verify membership

Posted January 21, 2016 5:10 p.m. EST
Updated March 23, 2016 1:48 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina's Office of State Controller has asked the state's largest teachers group to verify its membership numbers or risk losing the ability to have members deduct their dues directly from paychecks.

The notice, sent Thursday, came in response to a Dec. 1 letter by Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, which questioned whether the North Carolina Association of Educators was eligible for the dues deduction service. NCAE had declined to cooperate with a state auditor's report earlier in 2015.

"Prior to taking action, I am asking you to provide me or the State Auditor evidence of your membership count and type of membership count to ensure that the NCAE is eligible for the payroll deduction program as outlined by this legislation," Controller Linda Combs wrote to the NCAE.

Combs also notified the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation that it may no longer be eligible for the payroll deduction service either.

State law requires that educators groups such as NCAE have more than 40,000 members to be eligible for payroll deductions. The group claims to have more than 70,000 members, but according to a recent audit report, only 9,452 individuals whose payroll or retirement checks are processed by the state automatically pay dues to NCAE.

Despite Hise's demand that NCAE be immediately barred from its dues collection activity, Combs wrote to Hise that she would wait two weeks for a response from NCAE before taking action.

The teachers' group has tangled with lawmakers since Republicans took control of the General Assembly in 2011. It has been critical of the GOP-led legislature's funding for schools and backed Democratic candidates for office. In 2012, lawmakers returned the favor by holding an unprecedented midnight session to override Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of a bill that would have stopped the state from collecting NCAE dues. The group went to court and won, keeping the right over lawmakers' objections.

In 2015, members of the General Assembly, including Hise, filed a bill to kill payroll deductions for all employee groups, but that measure did not pass.