NC budget impasse to continue into Sept.; across-the-board raises unlikely

North Carolina Legislature
North Carolina Legislature (file)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina budget impasse is expected to continue into September, Rep. Nelson Dollar confirmed on Tuesday, and across-the-board raises for state employees and teachers are unlikely.

The Senate and House have agreed that the budget will be $21.7 billion but have not agreed on exactly how the money will be spent.

“We are continuing to work through a range of issues,” Dollar said. “Progress is being made.”

Asked about the discussions, Dollar said, “The discussions have been around salary and benefits and have been around how much goes into each one of those constituent areas.”

Dollar said of teachers and state employees that the House “fought for a 2 percent raise. We fought for some kind of across-the-board raise. But we cannot get any movement from our counterparts on doing any sort of across-the-board raise. So it’s more likely to be some type of bonus.”

Dollar added, “When we tell people what we’re fighting for in the House, that we want to keep teacher assistants, we want to try to do something for our state employees, we want to make sure that we have funds for drivers’ ed, people say, ‘Keep fighting for those things.'”

The lack of a final budget has left a tremendous amount of uncertainty across the state, as school systems are unclear on whether they will get funding for teacher assistants. Also uncertain is the fate of funding for driver education.

The current continuing resolution expires Aug. 31 – the deadline before that was Aug. 14. Dollar said the new continuing resolution will likely go through Sept. 15.

One teacher who retired in June, former Daniels Middle School teacher Melanie Walker, said the economic situation with public education made it difficult for teachers, especially with teacher salaries being frozen for many years.

“It’s gotten so difficult on so many levels and the legislature in this state is not making it any easier,” Walker said. “Right now, morale is really terrible.”

Walker called the lack of a budget “very unfortunate. It’s very sad. It shows a lack of respect and a lack of priorities.”

“We’re anxiously awaiting the outcome of the budget,” Christine Kushner, chair of the Wake County Public Schools,  told WNCN Aug. 18.

While budgets are often contentious, the North Carolina fiscal year begins July 1, and decisions on the budget are generally made well before September.

In 2014, Gov. Pat McCrory signed the budget Aug. 7.

In 2013, he signed the budget on July 26.

In 2012, Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed the General Assembly’s budget and the Republicans overrode her budget on July 2.

In 2011, the Republicans overrode Perdue’s budget veto on June 15. That year, Perdue became the first North Carolina governor to veto a budget.

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