Governor Cooper’s proposed budget, released with great fanfare Wednesday, shows his continued disconnect with the challenges the state’s taxpayers and businesses experienced over the past twelve months as a result of the restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. And though vaccinations against the virus are increasing, there is no guarantee that business and services will return to the previous level prior to the pandemic.

Joseph Coletti, senior fellow in fiscal studies for the John Locke Foundation, notes that Cooper’s proposed budget spends $2.8 billion more for the upcoming fiscal year than was budgeted for the current year and more than 9.3% more than the rate of inflation and population growth for the year. Considering the economic challenges and unknowns associated with the governor’s restrictions that were designed to “bend the curve” but soon morphed into the elimination of the COVID-19 virus, there is reason to be cautious in financial planning over the next biennium.

Mr. Colleti commends the governor for avoiding tax increases in his budget but that is a weak compliment considering that a majority of North Carolinians have experienced major financial and personal hardships caused by the pandemic’s disruption of businesses and services. A tax increase of any nature would be totally uncalled for, destructive for the fragile economy and would only deepen public resentment.

The governor’s budget is focused on appealing to what seems to be his most ardent voter block, albeit a relatively small block, the North Carolina Association of Educators. This organization, which is for all intents and purposes a teacher’s union, has experienced declining membership over the years to the point that it will not provide member numbers to the public.

Yet the governor targets this one group for major consideration. His proposed biennial budget includes $485 million in teacher and administrative pay with average pay raises of 10%, plus 7.5% raises for school district central office staff and noncertified public school employees. In addition to these pay raises Cooper proposes $2,000 bonuses for all educational staff this year and $1,000 the following fiscal year of the budget period and establishing an added $80 million for more school medical staff to include nurses, counselors and social workers.

Across the board Governor Cooper is spreading the state’s wealth with 7.5% pay raises for community college and UNC system employees, 5% pay raises for all other state employees plus a $1,000 bonus each year in the new biennium. Retired state employees would receive a 2% recurring cost of living increase plus 2% additional raises for the next two years.

The legislature attempted to provide pay raises to educators last year in addition to scheduled step increases and bonuses for 2020. But the governor refused to accept the pay proposal unless the legislature would approve expansion of Medicaid, which the legislature opposed out of concern for the state’s budget and fear that the federal government would reverse its support of the expanded services which will tax the state’s finances.

There is no question the state’s teachers and public employees have worked hard under unique and stressful conditions. And they have performed admirably. But what about the rest of the state, particularly the families and businesses who have likewise been stressed by the health issues brought on by the pandemic and the severe restrictions mandated by the governor’s use of the Emergency Powers Act?

Yes, funds have been provided through a variety of federal programs but they have not made up for the loss of jobs and job security destroyed by both the pandemic and government’s subsequent restrictions. Rather than proceeding cautiously, Governor Cooper proposes using one-time coronavirus relief funds, approximately $5 billion, to benefit his supporters and in the process commit the state to financial responsibilities that will need tax support in the future.

Governor Cooper should reconsider his cavalier spending proposals that ignore and demean the economic hardships because of reduced paychecks, lost jobs and closed businesses, some permanently, created by his restrictive mandates and the pandemic. He needs to send a message to the legislature and the whole state that he understands this challenge and that he is willing to work with state leaders to move the state’s economy forward in a cautious and effective manner that looks beyond his final term as governor.

(15) comments

DeadBolt

Another reason, aside from the damage mentally these extortionists , need to be removed from society. GET YOUR KIDS out of these places people, or you will have adult children for your entire life. (just watch one of the 'peaceful protests' with the great people in it). [whistling]

mpjeep

Why can’t our politicians see that we don’t want “more” taxpayer dollars going to teachers?

Teachers don’t have that hard of a job working maybe 7 hours a day, 9 months per year. And let’s face it teachers don’t teach. They plan the day’s lessons and teacher’s aides do all the work, while teachers sit in their lounge most of the day.

They are constantly whining and complaining about everything under the sun, but especially about their profession. You would think they would want to project a more positive image.

Having the future of our country in their hands, teachers, as caregivers, should want to rise to the occasion and teach our kids to be winners, not whiners.

And when Biden removes “right to work” laws from all states, teachers will all be unionized and have the ability to strike. And they will.

Boroexpat

Ive never read a more ignorant comment in my life. "And let’s face it teachers don’t teach. They plan the day’s lessons and teacher’s aides do all the work, while teachers sit in their lounge most of the day." Really, TAs have been eliminated from all grades but early elementary. Even then one TA usually is splt between multiple teachers. If a teacher gets one hour a day they are lucky. mpjeep blaming the teachers is classless. Spend one day in their shoes ....

(Edited by staff.)

drewski

I wonder if your nyt pension was negotiated by a union? The anti union sentiment runs fairly strong in " right to work states" I personally have had bad experiences with a union, I found the one I was in about useless, except when their hand was out for dues. Having said that, unions of the past gave us a 40hr work week and many other bennies. Vilifying teachers , and teachers unions is currently a big bug a boo on right wing media. Is anyone shocked it appears here?

mpjeep

I was in management so no need for a union to negotiate my pension.

mpjeep

My first post info comes from my sister-in-law and first cousin who are teachers in different counties of NC.

In secondary schools, teaching assistants are often known as learning support assistants. The roles and responsibilities of teaching assistants are varied and differ between schools.

The future of teacher assistants -- According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), job opportunities are actually pretty good for teacher assistants. They’re expected to grow about 8% from 2016-26.

TAs are used to save Money. Even colleges are getting in on the money savings: From US News: At some research universities, a teaching assistant (TA-usually graduate students) – might either serve as the main instructor for an undergraduate course or provide support to the professor. There are 121,120 graduate TAs employed at colleges and universities.

Crabpot

"My first post info comes from my sister-in-law and first cousin who are teachers in different counties of NC."

Yes, that ole second hand knowledge which immediately makes one an expert. Spend thirty years teaching. That will make you an expert. Then get back to us.

David Collins

The teachers that grab the press interviews are not your everyday teachers and are usually from large metropolitan areas where teachers unions rule the day . Those are the activist whiners and probably do just what mp was describing . Locally things are much different . Sort of gives all teachers a bad rap but that was the purpose of the whole segment . Wasn’t it ?

Being a good teacher is hard work and often under appreciated .

Now , when you here politicians say to give more money to teachers , the teachers often see pennies on the dollar and those at the top get the bucks . The trickle down turns into a slow seep for those on the front lines . As usual .

David Collins

One more thing , if I may .

Must admit that I received my 2nd Covid jab , the dreaded big one , yesterday afternoon and it left me a bit disheveled . Some sleep and a refrigerator raid apparently have helped .

This teacher thing was in my mind upon awakening in the wee hours . Strange .

The definition of a teacher has changed . Some call themselves teachers even though they are in fact not by the strict traditional definition . They are just influencers with a political agenda that they have adopted and are fraudulently using to change the hearts and minds of our impressionable youth . They call out with an attractive sirens song postulating the virtues of failed political dogmas that have been spread world wide . Why , heck I don’t know . Guess that they were failures in some part of their prior lives and misery loves company . A real democracy/republic such as ours is not always easy . Often hard and challenging . Far easier to be led by the nose and accept your fate . To some that is just fine , if you have lots of company . Sadly that is just what appears to be happening . Just look at today’s Congress and above .

drewski

I am guessing the vast majority of teachers would be horrified to learn they are really Marxist puppets indoctrinating our precious youth. As another said perhaps until you have spent a yr teaching 8th grade, it's very likely you have no idea what- so- ever what you are talking about.

drewski

My,my, we paint with a wide brush. The usual rant about liberal colleges promoting liberal ideals. With of course the hot button buzzwords de jour

" indoctrination". You paint a bizzare picture of the great masses of teachers avoiding the algebra lesson plan to whisper in tender young ears about the joys of socialism, communism, and ungodly behaviour.

Like any profession there are the good, the mediocre, and a few bad apples. The bad usually more associated with apathy or burnout then an insidious indoctrination agenda.Teachers struggles likely have more to do with keeping kids off their phones and focused on the lesson plan, then the foul, pervasive commie indoctrination you love to imagine.

David Collins

I agree with drew , most would be horrified at being revealed . Sadly , most anyone with a liberal arts degree , can be certified to teach with a few online courses .followed by a sic interview and off they go to indoctrinate a youth near you . Isn’t that just nice ? Certainly not all but some with growing numbers largely due to the totally BS degrees bestowed upon them by our uber left colleges . Just my take so bring it on .

DeadBolt

There are literally thousands of school districts wrapped up in this 'pile of dung' and at best they are extortionists , and bad actors. To pretend its at a few liberal institutions is akin to not paying attention. NC has made several NATIONAL HEADLINES on this in COURT. its being peddled in K- 12th. Here is another example ...... School board meeting /// https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8u9klwBKlss&t=7s Keep trying to tone down the smell, but, i would really hate to be a teacher wrapped up in this garbage. (THERE IS NO TELLING WHAT PARENTS WILL DO)

DeadBolt

NC Lt Governor Mark Robinson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81pOLHjq5w0 <====== When this reaches this guys flagpole, its a HUGE PROBLEM. (despite the opinions of liberal lunatics). Or maybe, they still have TERMINAL TDS!

DeadBolt

Locke's Terry Stoops discusses Lt. Gov. Robinson's FACTS task force https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOSrmQI7yKE OH.... wait a second, look, a TASK FORCE with LAWYERS, and Dr's ...... , and i heard it was a small, out of the way college issue? PARENTS BEWARE WHAT IS BEING READ TO YOUR CHILDREN, because the STATE OF NC is about to intervene. (guess its not a SMALL problem now).

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