JLF’s Sarah Curry, director of fiscal policy studies, has analyzed the N.C. Senate budget proposal. Here’s her take:
The proposed N.C. Senate budget plan would shift money away from lower priorities to meet the goal of raising public school teacher pay across the state. John Locke Foundation experts reviewing the $21.2 billion plan for 2014-15 like the Senate’s focus on spending existing revenue more efficiently.
“In the not-too-distant past, a plan to raise teacher pay or fund another major government initiative would have been tied to a plan to raise taxes for all North Carolinians,” said Sarah Curry, JLF Director of Fiscal Policy Studies. “We have seen a different approach since fiscal conservatives took over writing the state budget in 2011. As with the budget plans the General Assembly has crafted over the past three years, this one looks at using existing revenue to fund the highest priorities first.”
Compared to Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget plan, which would increase state General Fund spending by 1.7 percent from 2013-14 to the new budget year that starts July 1, the Senate would increase spending by 2.5 percent.
And what about the substantial teacher pay raise proposed in the Senate budget? JLF’s Terry Stoops weighs in.
The Senate plan devotes $468 million to a plan that would provide substantial pay raises for teachers who agree to give up tenure, officially known as career status. “Encouraging teachers to abandon the antiquated tenure system in return for the chance to earn much higher pay makes sense,” Stoops said. “But the pay increases could have been distributed differently.”
“Senate leaders may be doing too much too soon with the plan to raise teacher pay by an average of 11.2 percent,” Stoops added. “It would be more prudent to approve a somewhat-smaller across-the-board raise now and devote the remaining funds to larger increases in teacher pay for classroom performance, teaching challenging subjects, and working with at-risk students.”