May 27, 2016 Legislative Update
In This Issue…
- It Was a Busy Week on Jones Street
- Senate Educator Pay Increase
- Achievement School Districts
- IRC Update/$250 Classroom Expense Tax Deduction
- Retirement Creditable Service Charter Schools
Legislators returned to Raleigh this week with a full agenda. Leadership in the House and Senate are still hoping to wrap up this year’s short session by the end of June or early July. Several significant pieces of legislation were rolled out this week, including a regulatory reform bill, the farm bill and the Senate’s plan for teacher pay increases. The Senate is expected to release their budget bill next Tuesday, after returning from the long Memorial Day weekend.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Senate leader Phil Berger announced the outlines of a plan to raise the average salary of teachers to $54,000 over the next two years. This increase would move North Carolina to number one in the Southeast for teacher pay and twenty-fourth in the nation in that category. However, the Senate did not divulge how they would fund this increase, but only stated that they would be using recurring funds.
A bill that would create an Achievement School District (ASD), a State-level and statewide school administrative unit for low-performing schools from across the State, passed the House Committee on Education – K-12 Wednesday evening. The legislation would create pilot projects aimed at turning around schools where students consistently show little academic improvement and post low scores on state tests. The bill would also allow the creation of innovation zones for local school administrative units that transfer a qualifying school into the ASD. The legislation will now head to the House floor.
On Wednesday both chambers voted to approve a conference report that amends our state tax code based upon recent changes to the federal internal revenue code. This legislation includes a provision allowing teachers to deduct up to $250 for out-of-pocket classroom expenses. The bill will now head to the Governor for his signature.
A bill that would allow a member of the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) to purchase up to five years of creditable service for employment in a charter school passed the House on Wednesday. The bill extends the benefits of TSERS to educators and staff at nontraditional public schools. The member will have the option to buy into the system, which helps contribute to the system while also expanding the benefits to the charter school employees. The bill has now been referred to the Committee on Pensions and Retirement in the Senate.
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Submitted by Rick Zechini
For information about specific issues, please contact PENC government relations consultant Rick Zechini at email@example.com.