RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Democrat Roy Cooper unveiled his first state budget as North Carolina’s governor, a proposal that focuses heavily on public education and is more than 150 pages long.
Cooper announced his two-year budget Wednesday at Durham Technical Community College Wednesday morning.
The budget proposal covers everything in the state including education, healthcare and transportation.
The governor’s office had said Cooper’s proposal would aim toward making North Carolina a leader in key education measurements by 2025. Those include pre-kindergarten enrollment, high school graduation rates and the percentage of adults with higher education degrees.
The total proposal for the coming fiscal year would be a little less than $23.5 billion, a 5 percent increase from last year’s budget.
“I am presenting a fiscally responsible budget without raising taxes,” Cooper said.
Much of the money would go to education. Cooper is proposing an average 5 percent raise annually in each of the next two years for teachers in the state and a $150 yearly stipend for teachers to spend on instructional supplies.
The money is already there for teacher pay raises, Cooper said. “We just have to make education a priority.”
Cooper also said he wants to improve high school graduation rates from 85 percent to 91 percent.
The proposal also recommends covering 624,000 more North Carolinians under Medicaid.
Raises for state employees is also included in the budget. The proposal includes a 2 percent or $800 raise (whichever is greater) for state employees, as well as a $500 one-time bonus.
The budget includes $185 million extra money over the next two years for highway maintenance and a $13 million investment in the Clean Water Management Trust Fund.
The governor wants to reinstate a tax credit for child and dependent care expenses that GOP legislators eliminated. And Cooper wants to revive a tax credit for film and TV productions.
The budget goes to the General Assembly, which is securely in Republican hands. GOP leaders are under no obligation to approve it but may have similar viewpoints on some topics.
“These goals don’t come with party labels,” Cooper said. “They’re universal and bipartisan, and I’m ready to work with legislative leaders to accomplish them.”
The House must come up with a budget proposal next and then the Senate will follow. Then they will come together come up with a final budget that would go to Cooper.
The Associated Press contributed to this report