Governor Roy Cooper announced this morning that he will veto today the Republican budget compromise that passed the General Assembly last week. The Republican majority in the legislature has the votes to override the veto.
Cooper paid special attention to the education provisions in the budget, saying that they do not do enough.
“Now I’m troubled by many proposals in this budget, but chief among my concerns is education,” he said. “Education is the fuel that fills the tank of our economy. If we don’t get serious about doing more for our students, our economy will suffer.”
The teacher pay plan in the budget came out for particular scrutiny. The General Assembly budget gives a 9.6 percent average pay raise over two years, with 3.3 percent of that coming in the first year. Cooper proposed a 10 percent average pay increase over two years — about five percent in both years. But Cooper said his budget plan includes more money for those raises than the General Assembly budget does.
“I laid out a multi-year plan to get North Carolina to the national average in teacher pay. The Republican budget funds only half of what’s needed next year to meet that goal,” he said. “It leaves out starting and veteran teachers. Tell me how the $810 million I proposed for teacher pay matches the $470 million they proposed. It doesn’t. Teachers see though dishonest budget gimmicks.”
He also criticized the fact that new teachers, hired after 2021, will not get retirement benefits, and that the budget does not include a stipend for teachers to buy school supplies as his budget proposal did.
“The budget on my desk also siphons taxpayer dollars away from public schools and into private school vouchers with little accountability,” he said. “It’s a steady erosion of public education.”
Cooper was joined by teachers and others from the North Carolina Association of Educators. They stood behind him and nodded when he mentioned his problems with the Republican education budget.
Before the press conference, Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the NC GOP, said that Cooper had a simple decision.
“Governor Cooper is faced with a binary choice. He accepts teacher pay raises, that are very much in line with what he proposed, or he vetoes them,” Woodhouse said. “He takes taker worker pay raises, he takes increases in education funding, he takes middle class tax cuts, which he campaigned on, or he vetoes them.”
“By rejecting our fourth consecutive teacher pay raise — this time totaling 10 percent on average — a major middle-class tax cut and much-needed Hurricane Matthew relief, Gov. Cooper has broken some of his biggest promises to the voters, and they will hold him accountable. We will too, by quickly overriding his veto.”