It’s becoming increasingly clear that any hope for meaningful across-the-board pay raises for North Carolina teachers is withering on the political vine like a strawberry patch nipped by a mid-April freeze. Two new editorials spell this out.
As the Charlotte Observer explains in “A troubling sign for teacher pay,” it’s clear that a new task force on the issue that had gotten off to a promising start will now fail to deliver what’s really needed. As the editorial noted about the latest task force report :
“It’s a clear sign that despite assurances from Gov. Pat McCrory and Republican leaders that N.C. teachers should be paid more, most of them will be neglected again this year.
The 18-member task force, which was led by Republican Rep. Rob Bryan of Charlotte and Republican Sen. Jerry Tillman of Archdale, issued 11 findings and four goals. None veered far from proposals that McCrory and other Republicans have made, including an immediate salary increase for starting teachers only. Most involved general concepts and platitudes – “educators need a competitive salary,” said one – then urged the legislature to get to work studying those issues.
‘A cop out,’ says [Committee member State Rep.] Cotham. ‘Very soft,’ said task force member Ellen McIntyre, dean of the UNC Charlotte School of Education. McIntyre said she expected the Monday meeting to be about debating specifics for the final draft. It wasn’t. She voted for the final report anyway, she said, because the alternative was voting to send nothing.”
And the key reason for this milquetoast proposal? This morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer nails that — tax cuts:
“McCrory started some months ago talking about raises for the state’s starting teachers, moving from the disgraceful base of $30,000 to $33,000 and then to $35,000. Then there came a push for raises for veteran teachers as well.
But now, thanks in part to slower economic growth than anticipated, Republicans say a raise for all is doubtful. Will they still try to give starting teachers something? Their economic figures would seem to make even that doubtful.
Slow growth may be part of the problem, but a larger part is the Republican tax giveaway: A flat tax was established for personal income, and the corporate tax was cut to 6 percent. Though both moves benefit businesses and the wealthy most of all, McCrory continues to try to sell this foolish tax plan as something for average North Carolinians. The plan is little more than the same old Republican ‘trickle down’ economics, justifying tax cuts by saying they will give the rich more money to create jobs, which helps the average person.
But here’s the rub on teacher pay. Thanks to the fact that the Republican giveaway will cost the state about $2.4 billion over five years in lost revenue – personal income tax withholdings are behind forecasts by $221 million – there’s not going to be enough money for an across-the-board teacher pay increase.”