Never Enough: Democrats Vote Against Teacher Pay Raises Again as NC Republicans Pass Salary Boosting Mini-Budget

RALEIGH – It may be a new month, but it’s the same old story on Jones Street where Democrats are doing everything they can, it seems, to keep even portions of a budget passing. A mini-budget bill that would boost teacher pay has been passed by the legislature and presented to the governor, yet nearly every Democrats voted against it.

Senate Bill 354 raises teacher salaries, but it also offers further pay raises contingent upon the full budget becoming law over the objections of the governor. Republicans need just a few Democrats in either chamber to help them override Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of the budget, and accelerating teacher pay increases — something Democrats literally campaign on — is a reasonable offer in negotiation.

So what do the Democrats do? They again reveal themselves in calling Republicans ‘kidnappers’ holding the teacher pay hostage. Republicans that passed teacher pay raises, (that the governor vetoed), now offering another teacher pay raise if Democrats will simply allow the first raises in the budget to become law; who’s holding teacher pay hostage again? The floor debate on this issue was reportedly volatile.

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From the Carolina Journal:

“S.B. 354 passed the Senate with little debate, 28-21. The House vote was 62-46. The vote largely followed party lines. But the tone in that chamber was much feistier.

Teachers would see a 4.4% pay raise over the biennium if the Senate votes to override the budget veto. University of North Carolina System and N.C. Community College employees would get a 4% raise over the biennium. Non-instructional school support staff would get a 4% pay raise over the biennium, plus a 0.5% bonus.

In part, House Democrats objected to the provisions boosting raises if the full budget becomes law. The move to tie higher pay raises to the veto override led Cooper to call Republicans kidnappers and claim they are holding teacher pay hostage.

Republican lawmakers fired back.

“Nobody believes the governor’s cheap rhetoric about teacher pay anymore. He has yet another opportunity to sign or veto a teacher raise,” Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, said in a news release following the Senate vote. […]”

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Cooper and the Democrats don’t seem to appreciate that Republicans haven’t just rolled over already and endorsed Medicaid expansion and half of the rest of their wish list. We are now months into a budget standoff the Democrats’ position is becoming increasingly hard for even these political contortionists to defend.

At what point do enough Democrats realize how weak their hand is? That’s the timeline Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Leader Phil Berger are trying to discern because that’s what they need to override Cooper. In the mean time, at least the state government’s bills are paid and North Carolinians have the opportunity to see just how petty the Governor and legislative Democrats are.

Read more on the mini-budget on the governor’s desk here.

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