RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – There’s been no shortage of in-fighting in North Carolina politics but if there’s one thing Democrats and Republicans can agree on is that teachers and state employees need a raise.
Of course that doesn’t mean they always agree on how to pay for it.
One idea that is getting a lot of attention is a $2,400 raise for most teachers and state employees.
Some Republicans and Democrats have signed on to that proposal.
“I think we need good teachers so we have a good future in our country,” said teacher Joann Blumenfeld.
She teaches science at Broughton High School.
She knows how important a role teachers play.
But she also knows when it comes to making ends meet, for teachers that can sometimes be difficult.
“The average science teacher in Boston makes close to $100,000. I will probably make that in three or four years of my career,” Blumenfeld said.
But, during this legislative session, state lawmakers will likely address pay raises for teachers and state employees.
A proposal, just introduced in the House, would give them a $2,400 a year raise if they make less than $100,000 a year.
Rep. Chris Malone (R-Wake) sponsors the bill.
“I think it’s time that somebody show them respect for all the hard work they’ve been doing,” Malone said.
He said the raises would cost about $700 million.
“I think that the money is there,” Malone said.
The North Carolina Association of Educators agrees.
“We think it’s feasible because we have a $500 million surplus that we’re sitting on in reserves,” said Mark Jewell with NCAE.
The State Employees Association of North Carolina said that money will, in particular, benefit one in three state employees who don’t make a livable wage.
“They’re not going to the Bahamas. They’re not going to put it in a mutual fund. They’re going to spend that money on their bills which they’re not being able to make now,” said Ardis Watkins with State Employees Association of North Carolina.
For Blumenfeld, it’s an investment in the future.
“We have to start paying higher salaries. There’s a lot of things that teachers have to deal with now that they used to not and it’s a lot of stress,” she said.
Even with the bipartisan support, Malone admits it might be a tough sell.
The Senate will come up with its budget proposal next and then an idea what kind of money they are thinking about for pay raises at that point will come about.