Gov. Cooper says budget impasse will move into 2020

North Carolina news

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Nearly halfway through the school year, teachers likely will have to wait until after the holiday season to find out if state leaders will approve pay raises this year, Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday.

Cooper (D) toured Brogden Middle School in Durham Thursday, meeting with educators two weeks after he vetoed a bill backed by Republicans in the General Assembly that included an average raise of 3.9 percent for teachers over two years.

At the time, Cooper called the raises “paltry.”

“It’s not enough, and it’s going to make us fall further behind,” he said Thursday. “It looks like now our educators are going to have to go through Christmas without a pay raise.”

Cooper vetoed the state budget at the end of June. Since then, the General Assembly has passed a series of so-called “mini-budgets” mostly addressing non-controversial aspects of the budget on which Democrats and Republicans largely agree.

But, they have not reached agreement on two key issues: teacher pay and whether to expand Medicaid.

The legislature adjourned last week until mid-January.

Rita Bryant-Reams, an 8th grade math teacher at Brogden, said she’s grown frustrated that there’s no resolution to this issue.

“I want them to release the funds. I want them to stop playing poli-tricks, politics, whatever you want to call it and do what you need to do, what you were elected to do,” she said.

She said she has broader concerns with the level of funding and support the school is receiving from the state. In 2018, the school received a grade of F on its state report card, moving up to a D in 2019.

“We’re on the move now. We’re heading in a positive direction, but yet still we need those funds,” she said.

Cooper pointed out the school has about 170 students who speak English as a second language but only two ESL teachers.

On the day Cooper vetoed the pay-raise bill, Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) told CBS 17, “I don’t know where we go from here. We have passed what I think is one of the best budgets in my tenure here.”

As the impasse over the budget continues, teachers have begun picketing before and after school in places such as Raleigh and Durham.

On Friday, teachers at Lowe’s Grove Middle School are planning a demonstration before school begins.

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