Teacher raises included in NC House $21 billion spending plan - WSFX - FOX Wilmington, NC

Teacher raises included in NC House $21 billion spending plan

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GOP leaders in the state House unveiled a $21 billion spending plan Tuesday, that includes an average 5 percent pay increase for teachers GOP leaders in the state House unveiled a $21 billion spending plan Tuesday, that includes an average 5 percent pay increase for teachers
RALEIGH, NC (WECT) -

Leaders of the North Carolina House of Representatives unveiled a $21.1 billion budget proposal Tuesday morning, which includes an average 5 percent raise for public school teachers, avoids changes to eligibility for Medicaid, and does not mention the state's film incentives program, which is set to expire at the end of 2014. According to a release from House Speaker Thom Tillis' office, the proposal will be heard by budget subcommittees on Tuesday, and the full House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

"When Republicans took over the legislature a few years ago, the state faced double-digit unemployment and a $2.5 billion budget deficit," House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) said in a news release from his office.  "Today, because of the hard work we have put into turning our economy around and efficiencies we have made in our state budget throughout the year, North Carolina is finally in a position to meaningfully address our priorities including increased teacher and state employee salaries."

"The House budget proposal provides the services our citizens need and promotes North Carolina's ability to grow our economy and create more jobs," Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), the Senior Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in the same release.  "This plan reflects North Carolina's improving fiscal picture which has enabled us to make teacher and state employee raises a top priority."

Here are other points contained in the budget plan, as outlines in a release from Tillis' office: 

Salaries and Benefits

  • As announced in February by the Governor, Lt. Governor, Senate Leader and House Speaker, starting teacher salaries will begin at $33,000 per year
  • Provides an average five percent increase for teachers
  • Gives a $1000 salary increase to most state employees (includes UNC faculty and Community College employees)
  • Increases step-eligible Highway Patrol Troopers between five and six percent
  • Maintains existing premiums and benefits to the State Health Plan


Education

  • Follows through on the promise made in February to provide $18.7 million to restore the Master's supplements for a graduate program if coursework was started as of July 1, 2013 and reestablishes the program for all teachers if the degree is in their subject field
  • Fully funds the Career Pathways pilot program at $9.8 million to provide differentiated pay to teachers demonstrating effectiveness or assuming additional responsibilities
  • Maintains full funding for K-3 teaching assistant positions statewide
  • Provides $15.4 million for the Closing the Skills Gap initiative in our Community Colleges
  • Slates $5.9 million to offer veterans and dependents in-state tuition rates via the Yellow Ribbon matching fund program at UNC and the Community Colleges beginning Fall 2014

Health and Human Services

  • Does not change Medicaid eligibility
  • Establishes a $117.8 million State Risk Reserve for Medicaid Program
  • Includes $9 million of additional funding for Pre-K, an increase of 13 percent
  • Provides $9.3 million in state and federal block grant funds for mental health crisis services
  • Includes an 18 percent funding increase of $5 million for Foster Care Assistance Payments to address a sharp increase in caseloads
  • Increases by 101% to $27 million state funding to expand and enhance Child Protective Services including funding to reduce county department of social services caseloads
  • Provides $1 million (23% increase) to the Medical Examiner to address operational issues

Natural and Economic Resources

  • Provides $1.8 million and 25 positions to implement long-term coal ash management and clean up statewide
  • Allocates $3.6 million in additional funding for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center
  • Appropriates $1 million to The Support Center, which provides loans and advisory services to start-ups in low and moderate income communities
  • Provides $2.5 million to the One North Carolina Small Business Program for early-stage support of high-tech and high-growth small businesses
  • Increases Rural Economic Development Division grants by $2.3 million and utilizes $1 million to support downtown economic development and job creation through the Main Street Solutions Program
  • Provides $1 million to match federal dollars that will be used to preserve farmland around military bases, thus reducing the potential for encroachment that threatens national security

 

Justice and Public Safety

  • Transfers the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), streamlining all law enforcement agencies under one department and saving the state approximately $1 million
  • Establishes the Computer Crimes Unit within SBI which will investigate Internet-based crimes against children
  • Moves the Domestic Violence Center and Rape Crisis Grant program to DPS streamlining public safety measures

General Government

  • Funds three new positions within the State Board of Elections (SBOE) to investigate fraud in elections, discrepancies in voter registration information and to pursue prosecution for violations of election law
  • Appropriates $10 million to the Housing Finance Agency to create a loan program for the construction of qualified low-income housing units
  • Establishes a Taxpayer Assistance Call Center in Guilford County to provide better customer service to individuals with tax-related questions

Information Technology

  • Maintains the Information Technology Internal Service Fund at $190 million, supported by agency receipts
  • Extends the state Chief Information Officer's authority to approve unmanned aircraft systems to December 31, 2015
  • Designates $21 million to the Information Technology Reserve to support infrastructure and security

Transportation

  • Increases appropriations from the Highway Fund and the Highway Trust Fund by 3.9 percent
  • Funds resurfacing contracts by $12 million and provides $62.8 million for pavement preservation
  • Repeals tolls and prohibits future tolling of the North Carolina Ferry System routes and fully funds a new system-wide reserve for vessel and facility improvements

To see the entire House budget proposal, click here: http://bit.ly/1l4fZDT

Copyright 2014 WECT. The Associated Press contributed material to this report.

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