Republican-led General Assembly has approved teacher pay raises. The ball is in Gov. Cooper’s court.

North Carolina teachers marched for better pay last May.

As was expected Thursday, the North Carolina General Assembly approved in a party line vote a 3.9 percent teacher pay-raise that would be distributed over the next two years.

Republicans in the House and Senate voted in the favor of the pay raise while Democrats voted against it, many arguing that the proposed raise is too little.

In the House, the bill passed on a 62-26 vote with Democrats on the losing end. The margin in the Senate was closer. Twenty-eight Republicans voted in favor of the bill and 21 Democrats against.

“I’m not going to say $250 million [additional money for raises beyond what’s in the vetoed budget] is not a substantial investment,” said Rep. Darren Jackson, a Wake County Democrat. “What I will say, it’s not good enough.”

Non-instructional staff such as clerical assistants and custodians would also get a 2% boost in pay under the legislation now headed to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk where it’s expected to receive a chilly reception.

Cooper tweeted earlier Thursday that he believes the proposed raises are insufficient.

“Republican leaders hold teachers hostage. Demand sweeping corporate tax breaks and their entire bad budget in exchange for paltry teacher pay raises that are less than other state employees. Like kidnappers wanting ALL the ransom $$ and still not letting victims go.” Cooper tweeted.

Senate leader Phil Berger quickly responded in a tweet of his own: “This is false. Nobody should accept this as true. The teacher raise bill provides a 3.9% raise no matter what happens with the rest of the budget. Misleading the public is unacceptable. #ncpol

Cooper proposed an 8.5 % teacher pay raise as a budget compromise in July.

Rep. Cynthia Ball, a Democrat from Wake County, touted that compromise during a House budget debate Thursday, contending the governor’s plan would keep North Carolina competitive in the recruitment and retention of quality teachers.

“Competitive, not at the top of the national pay scale but competitive,” Ball said.

But Michael Speciale, a Republican from Craven County, said it’s “nonsense” to argue that the pay raise supported by the GOP is inadequate.

“We’re sitting here at the end of October, going into November because we have a stalemate because people are scared to vote their conscious because we have a governor running roughshod over them and we want to sit here and debate that his bill, which spends $250,000 to give teachers and employees a pay raise is not good enough,” Speciale said.

Rep. Jeffrey Elmore, a Wilkes County Republican and veteran educator, said the stalemate between Democrats and Republicans over teacher pay has had the effect of freezing pay for thousands of North Carolina educators.

“They’ve [teachers] got reality,” Elmore said. “They’ve got to pay bills. They’re expecting money.”

Mark Jewell, president of the N.C. Association of Educators, has called the Republican pay proposal “wildly insulting to educators.”

Jewell issued this statement Thursday afternoon:

“The miniscule 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. 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.”



  1. diane m geitner

    October 31, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    You call this a progressive blog? Cooper’s in the wrong for wanting bigger raises for teachers? I’m thoroughly disappointed. This will NOT be forwarded to my group.

  2. Jim Nash

    October 31, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    A 3.9 % raise over TWO years is an absolute insult to NC teachers. What more can they do to make the attrition rate go up? Teachers wear many hats and have never been more deserving of a substantial raise than in today’s world. I would like to see any one of our state senators try to wrangle 25 personalities all at one time, plan lessons for a week, deal with behavior, and also parents. Bottom line is they are controlling teachers but have absolutely no idea the amount of stress they are under on a daily basis. Thank you Governor, for at least advocating for those who teach the mind of future citizens

  3. Alisa

    November 1, 2019 at 12:28 am

    Disappointing! In order to ensure a tax cut, most educators will only receive an additional $100 each month. Wow! Just wow! My daily living expenses have increased more than $100. Plus, teachers spend more than that amount each month in their classrooms.

    ? I call on these representatives to receive the same salaries as the average teacher – not the ROTC teachers whose pay is reported yet inflated since they are supplemented by the government – but the average comparable year teacher. I call on them to receive the exact same pay increase. I call on them to work the same number of hours – the TRUE hours with grading, lesson planning, conferences, and after hour events included.? I call on them to be asked to paint walls, sweep floor, mow grass, rake leaves, collect trash…suffer unreasonably hot or cold rooms, contact lung infections due to mold from leaking ceilings, experience urinary and bladder infections due to limited opportunities to use the bathroom, be physically and verbally attacked by students and parents, be required to write and leave extensive lessons plans while ill as well as pay a fee for every sick day taken even though you have ‘earned’ the days!

  4. Roch Smith Jr

    November 1, 2019 at 11:57 am

    Greg wrote: “As was expected Thursday, the North Carolina General Assembly approved in a party line vote a 3.9 percent teacher pay-raise that would be distributed over the next two years.”

    This is so factually inaccurate that is demands a correction. Examine source documents, Greg, instead of parroting press releases.

    From a side-by-side comparison of the current teacher salary schedule to the budget bill:

    1 Year of Experience:
    Current: $36,000
    2020: $36,000
    2021: $36,000
    Percentage increase over 2 years: Zero

    10 Years of Experience:
    Current: $45,000
    2020: $45,000
    2021: $45,000
    Percentage increase over 2 years: Zero

    15 Years of Experience:
    Current: $50,000
    2020: $50,000
    2021: $50,000
    Percentage increase over 2 years: Zero

    20 Years of Experience:
    Current: $50,000
    2020: $50,500
    2021: $51,500
    Percentage increase over 2 years: 3.0 percent

    25 Years of Experience:
    Current: $52,000
    2020: $52,600
    2021: $53,600
    Percentage increase over 2 years: 3.1 percent

  5. Stewart

    November 1, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    Once again, the legislative GOP favors tax cuts for profitable corporations over pay increases for teachers. They can drop over $1 billion on the tax cut, but can only must 1/4 of that for teachers, who actually need to pay increase. It shows exactly what their priorities are, and that doesn’t include our schools or our teachers.

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