Archived News

State budget agreement reached

north carolinaThe North Carolina General Assembly reached the finish line a bit earlier than expected in their race to present GOP Gov. Pat McCrory with a budget before the long Independence Day holiday weekend.

The House of Representatives passed a spending plan on May 19, and the Senate approved a budget of its own on June 3, which the House rejected unanimously on June 8.

This set the stage for a compromise $22.34 billion spending plan that reached tentative agreement on June 27 and gives teachers and state employees raises, grants a cost of living increase to state retirees, and caps tuition at three universities at $1,000 per year.

Although budget documents weren’t immediately available, a press release issued by President Pro Tem of the Senate Phil Berger, R-Eden, touts what Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, called a “responsible” 2.8-percent increase in spending that “achieves both chambers’ shared goals with McCrory of prioritizing teacher pay raises, cutting taxes on the middle class, controlling the growth of government spending and bolstering the state’s savings.”

For teachers, McCrory had called for their average pay to rise to $50,000 per year; the House’s proposal of a 3 percent raise would have almost met that goal, but the Senate proposed 6 percent. What they settled on was a plan that will raise average teacher salaries almost 5 percent to more than $50,000 this coming school year, and more than $54,000 by 2020. 

On tax cuts, both the House and Senate proposed again raising the amount of untaxable income, differing only in duration — the House wanted to phase it in over four years, and the Senate two. As it now stands, those who are a married and file jointly will be exempt from the first $16,500 earned, up from $15,500. Next year, that exemption climbs to $17,500. 

Related Items

The Senate also sought to reduce tuition to just $500 per semester at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke campus as well as Western Carolina University.

Beginning in fall 2018, tuition at Elizabeth City State University, UNC Pembroke and Western Carolina University will be $1,000 per year for in-state students and $5,000 per year out-of-state. 

Most state employees weren’t happy with the Senate’s original plan to keep salaries at present levels, and state retirees were upset by the prospect of not receiving a cost of living increase this year, even though the House proposed a 2-percent raise for employees and a 1.6 percent cost-of-living raise for retirees. 

The budget statement promises a 1.5 percent permanent pay increase for state employees as well as a cost of living increase for retirees. 

Once the House and Senate approve the budget, it will go to McCrory for his signature. The state’s fiscal year begins July 1. 

Leave a comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.