by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
So no, the pay increase soon to be approved by North Carolina legislators this year won’t be their fifth pay increase. When taking into account all the actions by Republican lawmakers in the North Carolina General Assembly, including the repeated rounds of income tax relief that have allowed teachers to bring home more of their hard-earned income, teachers across the Old North State are actually poised to receive their eighth take home pay increase from Republican lawmakers in just the last five years.
All together, the income tax relief approved by GOP state legislators over the last five years, along with their rejection of sales tax increase pushed for by former Gov. Beverly Perdue (D), North Carolina Republicans have provided $12.4 to $13 billion in tax relief since from FY 2012 through the current year of FY 2018, along with another $2.8 billion coming in 2019 (some of which the Gov. Cooper wants to repeal), according to Joe Coletti, a senior fellow at the John Locke Foundation, a Raleigh-based free market think tank. Eight pay raises for teachers and nearly $15 billion in relief for all taxpayers (there’s a bumper sticker right there) is a record to run on that many candidates and campaigns would envy.
Meanwhile, critics of Gov. Roy Cooper point out that his agenda would take North Carolina back to the high-tax, high-spending ways of the Tar Heel State’s yesteryear. Cooper’s new budget proposal, released last week, calls for the largest increase in state spending in two decades, funded in part with $400 million in higher taxes over the next two years. [Emphasis added.]