Apparently sensing the political vulnerability of Gov. McCrory, North Carolina’s ambitious Lt. Governor, Dan Forest engaged in a little gratuitous headline grabbing last week by making the rather stunning/bizarre statement that he wanted North Carolina’s public school teachers to be the highest paid in the country and that there is “plenty of money in government” to effect such a change without raising taxes.
Yesterday, in response, veteran Raleigh journalist Scott Mooneyham of The Insider provided Forest with a crash course in Public Finance 101:
“Let’s dig down into the nitty-gritty of what it would take to make North Carolina public school teachers the highest-paid in the country.
Right now, North Carolina ranks 46th in teacher pay, according to a report from the state Board of Education. Rankings in 2011-12, from the National Education Association, showed the state even further down the last, at 49th among the 50 state and the District of Columbia.
NEA statistics put the average salary for North Carolina public school teachers at $45,947. The top-paying state, New York, paid its public school teachers an average of $74,944.
The difference between those two pay rates is $28,997.
There are roughly 95,000 classroom teachers in the North Carolina public schools.
To raise those North Carolina public school teachers to the same average pay as those New York school teachers would require $2.75 billion annually.” accounts in state government had $2.75 billion lying around, just ready to be plucked for any use.
Carving $2.75 billion out of the state’s prison budget would mean releasing hardened criminals into the street. Carving $2.75 billion out of the state Medicaid budget would mean closing a big chunk of North Carolina hospitals and turning away the poor.
Raising teacher salaries is a laudable goal, but Forest’s comment was beyond absurd.”