Senate passes budget with minimal raise for teachers in North Carolina

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WJZY) – Republican leaders in the North Carolina Senate passed their proposed budget Thursday with some Democratic support. Governor Cooper, however, has already expressed his disdain for the budget’s current form, particularly because of the raises carved out for teachers.

Under the proposed budget, Pam Miller, a Gaston County teacher who has worked in education for 26 years, will be making an extra $13 a month from the 1.5% pay raise.

“I’m not quite sure how $13 more a month is really going to help my budget,” Miller said.

Miller is a first-grade teacher and also a member of the North Carolina Association of Educators. Miller said at least a 5% per year raise is necessary for teachers.

“We are educating the future of our state. And we need to retain quality teachers and part of retaining quality teachers is treating them and paying them as professionals that they are,” Miller said.

But Republican leaders argue the raises they included in their budget are sufficient.

“What we are trying to make sure that we do is provide reasonable pay increases for our educators and for other state employees, while not creating a baseline problem as far as the overall budget,” Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger, (R), said.

But Democrats argue with a potential $6.5 billion surplus of funding, legislators need to be doing more to compensate teachers.

“We’re still at the very bottom of the country when it comes to teacher pay. We’re still at the bottom when it comes to per-pupil spending,” Senator Mujtaba Mohammed, (D), said.

Another Gaston County teacher, Alexa Gramfeller, said she hopes at least some sort of budget will pass since North Carolina teachers haven’t gotten a raise in years.

“I’m frustrated. But you know, we’ll take anything, instead of nothing. But we do definitely want a lot more. Because we want valued teachers to continue to stay with our school system,” Gramfeller said.

The budget is now heading to the North Carolina House for potential changes and approval.

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