August 28, 2015 Legislative Update
In This Issue…
Once again, there is no resolution to report on the 2015-2017 state budget, H 97. There was, however, another temporary budget extension enacted – H18, which extends last year’s budget until September 18th. It makes no other changes to the previous temporary budgets.
With the announcement last week of the overall spending target, subcommittees were issued their corresponding budget targets and their chairpersons began to meet. The other big announcement on August 26 was that all state employees and teachers would receive a one-time $750 bonus in December of 2015. [Note: The bonuses will not count toward retirement calculations] Starting teachers already saw their pay increase to $35,000 as a result of the first temporary budget. Teachers who are due to receive an experience based pay raise will get that increase if the budget agreement continues as outlined by House and Senate leadership. But, the across-the-board cost-of-living increases PENC advocated for appear to be abandoned.
Education conferees were authorized to spend just over $12.012 billion in recurring dollars this year and another $34.7 million in one-time money. This target is significantly below the spending level in the House, which included the 2 percent cost of living increase for teachers, full funding of teacher assistants, restoration of Master’s Degree pay for subject-specific areas and for driver education.
Budget negotiations are expected to continue throughout the weekend. Meanwhile, PENC has shared a call to action with members and educators interested in preserving the integrity of the teaching profession. The call to action facilitates communication for education supporters who want to communicate with their House and Senate Members, Gov. Pat McCrory and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest about the need to provide across-the-board cost-of-living increases for educators and state employees – especially those who work in North Carolina Schools. To participate in that call to action, click here.
PENC continues to advocate for education funding and to increase teachers’ salaries and preserve their retirement and health benefits. PENC sent a letter to lawmakers on August 7 enumerating key budget negotiation issues, including restoration of Master’s Degree Pay for subject-specific degrees. You can see that letter here.
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Submitted by Evelyn Hawthorne
For information about specific issues, please contact PENC government relations consultant Evelyn Hawthorne at email@example.com.