Gov. Pat McCrory unveils his recommended 2015-17 state budget

Governor Pat McCrory unveiled his recommended $21.5 billion budget Thursday, which continues his promise to boost beginning teacher salaries up to a minimum $35,000 a year but does not provide significant increases for veteran teachers and makes yet another cut to the state’s university system.

“We’re changing the basic paradigm of how we evaluate and distribute our limited tax dollars,” McCrory told reporters Thursday. “The new paradigm is directing our monies toward where we’re having the highest attrition, where the greatest need is and based upon the market performance…we’re really speaking in a different paradigm that’s more market-oriented than civil service oriented.”

More than half of McCrory’s 2015-17 recommended state budget is devoted to education. An additional $200+ million is spent on fully funding student enrollment growth in K-12 education over the next two years, and around $84,000 is tagged for increasing beginning teacher salaries from $33,000 (which the General Assembly approved last year) to $35,000 beginning this fall.

While veteran teachers did not receive significant pay bumps in spite of the fact that many say they were cheated out of raises during last year’s much touted teacher pay raise, McCrory’s new budget director, Lee Roberts, emphasized that eligible teachers would still move along the newly-enacted state salary schedule if McCrory’s budget passes.

The old salary schedule for teachers had previously been frozen, Roberts said. The state’s new system provides teachers with pay bumps every five years.

McCrory’s budget hits the University of North Carolina system with a 2 percent funding decrease, also known as “allowing flexibility to achieve efficiencies.”

That cut comes on top of years of budget cuts to the state’s strapped universities. In addition, universities would also be capped at $1 million with regard to how many state dollars they can spend toward private fundraising efforts.

McCrory told reporters that he’s consulted with UNC leaders.

“We’ve talked to the university leaders about this and what they like is the flexibility we’re giving them, said McCrory. “Instead of the politicians out of Raleigh telling them how to find savings, we’re giving them the flexibility to do that.”

The word flexibility was a commonly used one in today’s budget reveal.

“In the past, they’ve [UNC] gotten the directive of what to reduce or increase out of Raleigh. Those days are ending. We want to give that flexibility to our universities and our community colleges and, by the way, our superintendents,” McCrory said.

Other education-related takeaways from the Governor’s budget: Read More

Falling Behind in NC, NC Budget and Tax Center

It is true that the Governor’s budget proposal reinvests in some programs and services to achieve an overall increase in General Fund appropriations.  This reinvestment was made possible by improvements in the availability of revenue under current law, the reliance on tuition increases and fees, as well as reductions in other areas of the budget. However, state investments in most areas of the budget are failing to keep up —let alone make progress back to pre-recession levels of spending.

There are two primary vantage points for analyzing the Governor’s budget proposal and making comparisons over time.  One method is to measure his proposal against the current law budget, which reflects the actual dollars that were appropriated last year per the final FY2012-13 budget.  The other method measures his recommendations against the continuation—or base—budget, which reflects the dollars needed in the next year to maintain current service levels.  The latter comparison provides a better sense of what is necessary to maintain residents’ current experience of public service because it accounts for the changing costs required to deliver the same level of services approved by the previous General Assembly. The chart below contrasts the Governor’s budget proposal to each of these vantage points. Read More