November 5, 2019

Legislative Update

Legislators were in Raleigh again last week. We continue to watch for a budget override or compromise. The override was on the calendar each day in the Senate, but they did not take the vote. One can only assume that they did not have the votes to secure an override of the governor’s veto. We also see no real effort to negotiate a compromise budget.

We are starting to hear legislators discuss the prospect of passing portions of the budget in large blocks in their entirety (for example, education, transportation, agriculture/commerce, etc., would see action in a single block). This would likely not occur until 2020 if it’s the chosen path.

Legislators did adjourn at the end of last week and agreed not to return for session until November 13. However, discussions between lawmakers and the governor will likely continue.

The following 2 piecemeal versions of the budget pertaining to educator salaries passed last week and have moved to the governor for action:

1.  As reported earlier,  House Bill 377 has now passed both chambers and has been sent to the Governor. HB 377 includes funding to cover the experience-based step increases for teachers, assistant principals, and other school personnel eligible for step increases. HB377 does not include across the board salary increases.

2.  In an effort to secure across the board funding increases for educator salaries, Senate Bill 354 was advanced by the Senate and House and await a decision from the Governor. This bill would fund educator salaries to the level originally allocated in the state budget, which was vetoed by the governor. However, SB 354 adds a provision to increase educator salaries beyond the initial budget allocation in exchange for allowing the state budget veto to be overridden. If SB 354 were to be signed by the governor, then certified employees would see a raise of 4.4% or .5 percent more than what was included in the original budget. Non-certified staff would see a 4% increase over the two years of the budget biennium, along with a .5% bonus, which would show up in paychecks for October 2020.  Central Office personnel would see a 4% increase in pay spread over two years as well. Again, this enhanced educator pay package is contingent upon the veto override being allowed to proceed.

PENC is frustrated, and we know that our members are frustrated with the politics of the budget and the uncertainty of educator salaries and the uncertainty of school budgets. We have witnessed 2 piecemeal budget bills regarding teacher salaries last week.  However, the one regarding educator raises came with political caveats, which could lead to a veto from the governor.  PENC, without question, wishes we saw raises like what was included in the governor’s budget and the House budget. We are also disappointed seeing our potential raises crafted in a way that may draw a veto from the governor. Political strife in Raleigh has certainly had a negative impact, and PENC is doing all we can do to encourage lawmakers and the governor to come to an agreement soon.

We will continue to monitor, advocate, and report as we find out new information from Raleigh.

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