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Gov. Cooper to sign budget including raises for teachers, bonuses for state employees, income tax cut

North Carolina News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday that he plans to sign a bipartisan budget bill that will deliver raises for teachers, bonuses for state employees and an income tax cut.

Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham County) announced Monday that lawmakers this week likely will vote on a compromise budget bill that he says has “strong bipartisan support” and that he expects Gov. Roy Cooper will sign it into law.

Democrats have been negotiating with the Republican-controlled General Assembly for months, and there never was a full budget agreement in either of the past two years.

Berger and House Speaker Tim Hall (R-Cleveland) have been handling much of the negotiation, and Berger’s note of optimism carries the weight of that process.

The budget that Berger described includes pay raises and bonuses for teachers, a $15 minimum wage for state employees, cuts the state income tax rate, funds infrastructure projects and tops out at $27 billion.

It does not include expansion of Medicaid, which long as been a point of disagreement among state leaders.

The News & Observer of Raleigh last week reported that Hall had said there weren’t enough votes in the House to support Medicaid expansion to have it included in the budget. That had been an important issue for Cooper.

“We have made significant progress over nearly two months of good-faith negotiations with the Governor, and I’m optimistic that the budget will have a strong bipartisan vote and that Gov. Cooper will sign it into law,” Berger said in the release.

There was no immediate response from the governor’s office or anyone else involved in the process.

Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincolnton Republican and head budget writer in the House, told the News & Observer last week that “there is ‘probably a 33% chance’ each that Cooper will sign it, let it become law or veto it.”

Berger’s release outlined in general terms:

  • A 5% pay raise for most state employees and an average 5% pay raise for teachers over the biennium. There would also be a $2,800 bonus for most teachers from federal funds. Another $100 million would be dedicated to state-funded teacher salary supplements in low-income counties.
  • An increase of the minimum wage for all non-certified personnel and community college staff to $15 per hour beginning in 2022 and bonuses from federal funds for state employees that range from $1,000 to $1,500 based on the job.
  • A lowering of the personal income tax rate from 5.25% to 3.99% by 2027, starting with 4.99% next year. There are other changes to tax brackets and child deductions.
  • An additional $1.5 billion above the base budget over the biennium in recurring funds for K-12 education and $2.6 billion to be spent on school capital projects.
  • $22 billion for various infrastructure projects.
  • $1 billion for broadband expansion.
  • A a 5% supplement for state retirees over the biennium.

The expectation is that budget review and votes could occur Tuesday through Thursday.

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