McCrory budget includes raises for state employees - WNCN: News, Weather

McCrory budget includes raises for state employees

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Gov. Pat McCrory's first budget includes a 1 percent raise for state employees, including teachers, but overall is the lean document he promised and includes cuts for the University of North Carolina system.

The budget proposal, which he announced Wednesday morning, is for $20.6 billion for fiscal 2013-14. The current budget is $20.2 billion.

"Yes, there are tough decisions in this budget and I didn't enjoy making all them," McCrory said.

You can read the entire budget proposal here.

Below are some highlights on the budget:

  • Increases funding by $52.4 million over two years to fund services for an additional 5,000 at-first 4-year-olds through NC Pre-K.
  • Hire 1,800 more full-time teachers
  • More resources for digital learning
  • Provides $28 million for summer reading camps and reading plans to improve reading proficiency
  • Provides $63 million over two years to help fund the University of North Carolina system's Strategic Directions Plan.
  • Provides $77 million over two years to the Information Technology Reserve "to fix our systems and increase customer service."
  • Provides a 1 percent cost of living adjustment for retirees, as well as funds to adjust salaries for top-performing employees.
  • Provides $10 million to compensate eugenics victims.
  • Provides a $139 million surplus at the end of the fiscal 2013-14 year

On eugenics, both House Speaker Thom Tillis and former Gov. Bev Perdue pushed for compensation last summer. The measure passed the House but not the Senate.

WNCN could not reach Senate leader Phil Berger Wednesday. But his spokeswoman, Amy Auth, said the proposal would be reviewed when the Senate reviews the budget.

Asked why it failed last year, Auth said, "Because of the difficult fiscal realities, we weren't able to move forward."

The raises for teachers would be their first from the state since 2009. McCrory said more than half of the budget goes to education, but he said more changes in education are ahead.

"I want to increase the pay of teachers right now," McCrory said, "but I've got to work within the parameters of the money coming in in this tough economy."

McCrory also said he wanted more "full-time, certified teachers in the classroom," and not just part-time teachers.

As is always the case, however, some key priorities are deeper into the bulky document.

A key question, for example, has been how McCrory and his budget director, Art Pope, will fund education.

The proposed budget includes significant cuts for the UNC system, which is based out of Chapel Hill but includes all of the state's public universities, including N.C. State, N.C. Central, Fayetteville State and Appalachian State in addition to UNC.

The UNC system has a budget of $2.577 billion for the current fiscal year. That would be cut to $2.52 billion for 2013-14 and $2.556 billion for 2014-15.

The budget calls for reductions in "senior and middle manager positions" plus "the elimination of low-performing or redundant programs." Those words could have a real impact in the Triangle, with its heavy university communities.

The budget also calls for universities to share resources to save money.

The budget brought a sharp, and lengthy, response from UNC system president Tom Ross.

"I am very concerned by the magnitude of the new cuts proposed for our campuses, particularly in light of the more than $400 million in permanent budget reductions we absorbed two years ago," Ross said. "I worry about the impact additional reductions will have on our ability to provide high-quality educational opportunities to our residents and to assist in North Carolina's economic recovery."

McCrory did say the budget does not call for any further tuition increases for in-state students.

"We do not want to put additional debt on students," he said.

WNCN's Jonathan Carlson questioned McCrory about UNC's concern. McCrory said, "We worked very closely with [UNC] -- and they have the same amount of expenditures as they had last year -- but we care deeply for the university system."

Also on education, the budget calls for the state to hire three more people to oversee charter school programs.

McCrory said his budget tries to add more for reserves, and also includes an increase of $575 million to fully fund Medicaid.

Democrats held a news conference, saying many of McCrory's proposals should be questioned.

WNCN's Alejandra Ortiz contributed to this report.

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