Amid $2 billion surplus, NC Senate budget plan calls for big tax cuts, modest state worker raises

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — After learning the state had $2 billion more than expected, the North Carolina Senate released its budget proposal Monday.

It calls for deeper tax cuts instead of bigger raises for state employees. Associations that represent those state employees said they deserved better. Teachers haven’t received a raise in two years.

Just last week Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced North Carolina had the additional funds, saying they received more in tax revenue than they expected.

That leaves the state with a nearly $7 billion surplus.

So what does the Republican controlled Senate hope to do with the money?

They’re proposing keeping the budget at about $26 billion and lowering taxes.

“I came from a family that didn’t necessarily go to college, I’m a first gen Hispanic graduate from WakeTech,” Jose Fabre Jr. said.

Fabre wanted to help others go to college, that’s why he became a recruiter at WakeTech.

Under the Senate’s plan, state employees like Fabre as well as teachers would get a 1.5 percent raise each year for the next two years. Correctional officers would get a 7 percent pay bump.

There’d also be a bonus. Those making less than $75,000 would get $1,500. Those over that amount would get $1000.

“Definitely be useful you know. To have a little bit extra cash,” Fabre said.

The North Carolina Association of Educators wants more.

“It’s really indefensible to put forth a budget that is so tone-deaf to the needs of public schools,” Kristin Beller, the Wake County NCAE President said.

That money would instead go to tax cuts. The individual income tax rate would drop by more than a percent over 5 years. They said it would cost $2.5 billion in the next two years.

CBS 17 found mixed reaction to the plan.

“I could potentially give more to the economy by spending more,” Diana Sedano said.

“I would go with state employees… It’s time to belly up and give the teachers what they deserve and other state employees as well,” said Kay Fox, a retired teacher.

In a statement, the State Employees Association of North Carolina Executive Director Ardis Watkins wrote:

“There is no excuse to be stingy this year. SEANC is totally perplexed why the Senate proposed insignificant raises and shutting out retirees when the State is drowning in money. If ever there was a time to give significant raises, this is the year. That said, we applaud the equitable treatment of state employees and teachers and a higher minimum wage for school employees as those are important principles SEANC has fought hard for and are happy to see included. As the budget process continues, SEANC will fight to see suitable raises for the dedicated public servants and retirees who serve the people of our state.”

The Governor also responded: “Real budget negotiations will be critical because in order to have a shared recovery, we must invest in education, health care, childcare and tax cuts for those who need it, not tax breaks for corporations and people making more than $200,000 per year.”

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