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Here’s why teachers might get bigger raises despite veto override delay

The Senate did not hold its planned budget veto override Monday night, but teachers could still see pay raises before the General Assembly adjourns this week. In fact, according to Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, they could see more than they anticipated. 

At a press conference earlier today, Berger said that teachers will see more than the average 3.9% pay increase found in the budget. He said if the veto override happens, then a bill would run this week with additional funding for pay raises. If it doesn’t happen, then a bill would tackle the entirety of the legislature’s teacher pay proposal, including more money than was originally in the budget.

“It will be with or without the budget override, and it will be in total dollars more than was in the budget,” said Berger.

The override vote was removed from tonight’s calendar and put on the calendar for tomorrow. Whenever it happens, the override vote could mean the end to a months-long standoff between Gov. Roy Cooper and the General Assembly over the budget passed during the summer. 

Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, D-Wake, sent out a statement about the veto override delay tonight, criticizing Senate Republicans.

“Tonight’s decision to delay the proposed veto override tells us that Republicans know the Governor’s veto will be sustained. They need to take our proposals seriously,” he wrote in his statement. “It’s time for Senator Berger and his Republican colleagues to stop passing the buck and work with us to pass a compromise budget that addresses the state’s pressing needs.”

One of the main sticking points in the budget was Medicaid expansion: Cooper wanted it, legislative Republicans didn’t.

During the press conference earlier in the day, Berger criticized Cooper and legislative Democrats for being unwilling to compromise without consideration of Medicaid expansion.

“We can give on the provisions that Democrats say they care about,” he said. “But we will never reach an agreement if the Democrats continue to oppose any compromise budget that doesn’t include Medicaid expansion.”

But according to a tweet from Blue, there is no “ultimatum.”

A number of education provisions in the budget also proved to be tough negotiating topics between the two groups, especially teacher pay.

In the budget, teachers would get an average 3.9% pay raise over the biennium, but all new raises would go to teachers with 16 years of experience or more. Teachers with 0-15 years of experience would only be getting their normal step increases. 

Cooper’s plan would have included an average 9.1% increase for teachers, as well as the restoration of master’s pay. 

It is unclear what the average pay raise will amount to once legislative Republicans file their teacher pay bill this week, but it will end up at more than 3.9%, according to Berger. 

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.