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NC Legislature Approves Teacher Raises; Democrats Say It's Not Enough

WFAE File Photo
Teachers in North Carolina have not had a 2019 pay raise.

The North Carolina General Assembly approved 3.9% pay raises for teachers and 2% raises for non-instructional staff Thursday, both increases over the next two years and retroactive to July 1.

The bill must still be signed by Gov. Roy Cooper to take effect.

The Senate voted 28-21 in favor of the Strengthening Educators' Pay Act, while the House passed it 62-46. Democrats in both chambers opposed the bill, saying the raises were not enough.

Similar raises were included in the state budget that Cooper, a Democrat vetoed earlier this year; he said the raises were too small. He offered a budget compromise in July that included 8.5% raises.

North Carolina Association of Educators president Mark Jewell called the raises "incomprehensible" in a statement.

"The minuscule pay increase offered in the educator pay proposal just passed by the General Assembly is an outrageous affront to the professionalism of every educator in our state, be they a teacher, an Education Support Professional, or a retiree," Jewell said in the statement. "It is incomprehensible that Republican leadership would think educators could be pressured into taking such an inadequate offer, and we stand with the governor in opposition to this legislation."

On Wednesday, Republican legislators offered a deal to Democrats: If they would vote to override Cooper's budget veto, they would support a deal that included raises of 4.4%  and a small bonus. Senate Republicans needed at least one Democrat to join them to override the veto.

In response, Cooper tweeted, "Republican leaders hold teachers hostage."

Senate leader Phil Berger tweeted back, "this is false."