State education leaders expressed shock and anger Wednesday at the House’s surprise override of Gov. Roy Cooper’s state budget veto.
“The unbelievably deceitful conduct of House Republicans in the General Assembly this morning is nothing short of reprehensible,” said Mark Jewell, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators. “By playing underhanded political games in an attempt to win at all costs, they are subverting the democratic process and destroying whatever shred of trust remained between Republicans and the people of North Carolina.”
House Democrats said they were told there would be no votes during the morning House session.
“At a time when many of us were taking a moment to remember the tragic events of 9/11, House Republicans called a surprise vote with nearly half of the lawmakers absent,” Jewell added. “This tactic smacks of the lack of integrity that has caused so many problems in our state over the past decade, from unconstitutionally gerrymandered maps to chronically underfunded public schools. But this should come as no surprise from a body that has refused to negotiate in good faith with the Governor, while disrespecting the needs of public education and educators time and time again.”
Jen Mangrum, who has announced plans to run for state Superintendent of Public Instruction, also weighed in on the veto override.
“I am appalled at the childish behavior of our General Assembly leadership. This budget is not about them and it’s not about winning or losing. It’s about representing the people of North Carolina and letting the democratic process unfold,” Mangrum said in a statement.
She accused the Republican leadership of trying to avoid negotiating better pay for teachers.
“It’s shameful and shows a lack of support for our public schools,” Mangrum said.
Cooper and the state’s Republican leadership were far apart on teacher pay increases. Republicans were expected to take up teacher pay in a separate bill this week as part of a “piecemeal” approach to break the budget stalemate.
Under Cooper’s compromise spending plan, teacher pay would increase by an average of 8.5 percent over the biennium. The GOP’s conference committee plan calls for an average teacher pay raise of 3.8 percent and a one-time bonus.
Cooper told reporters at a noon press conference that he spoke with House Speaker Tim Moore over the weekend about damage caused by Hurricane Dorian and “potentially splitting the difference between their version of teacher pay and their version of teacher pay.
“Teachers lose in this vote with much less pay than they deserve,” Cooper said. “So do bus drivers and cafeteria workers and other educational staff.”