GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill on Friday that included a pay increase for teachers in the state.
The bill was passed one week prior and placed on the governor’s desk. It was drafted and passed by Republicans with little to no support from Democrats.
In it, teachers would have seen a pay increase of 3.9 percent, while other school employees will see a 2 percent increase. Both would have been made over the next two years.
This is less than the 8.5 percent that the governor proposed, and less than what teachers had asked for -- at least a 5 percent increase across the board.
“There is not an adequate pay raise,” Cooper said on Friday.
Republicans were quick to fire back, criticizing the governor’s consecutive vetos on budget bills that do not expand Medicaid.
“I’m disappointed, but not surprised,” House Majority Leader John Hardister said. He said that “the governor is playing politics with teacher pay. He continues to hold up the budget over an ultimatum on Medicaid expansion. The General Assembly is trying to run the state, but the governor is focused on politics.”
Republican Sen. Phil Berger also took to Twitter where he said, “Governor Cooper uses teachers as pawns, blocking their pay increases then trying to convince them it's all the Republicans' fault. At some point, they'll see his cynical ploy for what it really is.”
When asked for a response, Todd Warren, the president of the Guilford County Association of Educators, said “this is really a failure on the part of Republican lawmakers.” He said that they will stand by nothing less than 5 percent, and will continue to put pressure on lawmakers.
That includes handing out picket signs at school board meetings and holding news conference events.
“If we need to be in motion and let our legislators know in stronger ways than putting 30,000 people in Raleigh like we did on May 1, then we can do that,” Warren said.
Hardister explained that teacher pay will remain on the table for discussion but that that ball is in the governor’s court.
“We will remain committed to increasing teacher pay. I’ve always thought that teacher pay is a great policy for bipartisan support and negotiation. The problem is that the governor is dug in on Medicaid expansion, which is really what is holding up the budget,” Hardister said.
On Friday the governor announced that he will be open to discuss teacher pay increase separately from Medicaid. When asked about his thoughts on this, Hardister said, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”