Gov. Cooper proposed budget would increase spending by $1.1 billion

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Roy Cooper (Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

DURHAM, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper unveiled his state budget Wednesday, a proposal that would increase government spending by $1.1 billion next year.

The proposed two-year budget would give teachers and state employee raises, reduce waiting lists for pre-kindergarten programs and expand Medicaid.

It would increase spending by more than 5 percent compared to the current budget on the books.

Most state employees would also get raises equal to 2 percent or $800 next year, whichever is higher. It also includes a $500 bonus.

Gov. Cooper’s proposal would aim towards making North Carolina a leader in education measurements by 2025. Those include pre-kindergarten enrollment, high school graduation rates and the percentage of adults with higher education degrees.

Currently, the percentage of adults in North Carolina with higher education degrees is 38 percent. Cooper is hoping to see it soar to 55 percent.

The budget calls for $20 million to be invested in manufacturing, $30 million in broadband access in North Carolina’s rural counties and additional funds to be invested in treatments for opioid addiction.

The proposal also moves to expand Medicaid in North Carolina, a move that Republicans call illegal.

Berger commented on the proposed budget Wednesday afternoon, calling it a “step backward.”

“If the news reports are true, Gov. Cooper is clearly growing nostalgic for the Easley-Perdue days of runaway spending — and his reckless $1 billion spending spree would surely return us to the days of high taxes and multi-billion dollar deficits,” he said. “We believe a more prudent approached is investing generously in public education and other priorities while still saving for a rainy day and returning hard-earned tax dollars to our taxpayers. The governor’s proposal is a step backward from this successful approach that has led to a booming North Carolina economy and helped generate close to 500,000 new jobs.”