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Last updated: August 04. 2014 7:15AM - 387 Views
By - agonzalez@civitasmedia.com



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RALEIGH — The state of North Carolina has a budget.


The $21 billion budget is full of cuts to some departments, policy shifts in others, and an average raise for public school teachers of about 7 percent.


The spending plan secured approval from the state House hours after the Senate passed it earlier Friday. According to lawmakers, the budget bill was negotiated among Republicans, who hold large legislative majorities in both chambers.


The state budget holds overall spending flat by committing $153 million of one-time money and tapping $620 million in savings from the previous year.


The budget will raise the pay of public school teachers by an average of 7 percent at a cost of $282 million.


The state will spend nearly $42 million to reduce class sizes in kindergarten to 18 children per teacher and to 17 students per teacher in first grade, an increase of 760 positions.


School administrators will receive about $800 more while office workers and other non-certified staff receive $500.


Most other state employees will get a $1,000 pay raise and five extra vacation days.


A group representing teachers said it wasn’t fair that other state employees will continue to receive longevity pay as a separate paid benefit.


The N.C. Association of Educators portrayed the longevity pay shift as a loss of a benefit and characterized the 7 percent average pay raise — amounting to an average of $3,300 a year — as a “fallacy.”


“It is wrong for the General Assembly to take the percentage represented by longevity, add it to an additional new percentage increase, and try to pass it off as a total salary increase,” the teachers association said in a statement.


Locally, Elkin resident Ann Walker said that she’s happy teachers are getting raises, along with state employees, but was concerned about how she and her family would make ends meet.


“It’s decent money. It will do a ton of good. However, we have lots of people living here who have not seen a raise. We need help, too,” said Walker.


Though previously threatening a veto, Gov. Pat McCrory said on Friday he would sign it into law.


Anthony Gonzalez may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @newsgonz.


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