Governor Cooper today presented his Common Ground Solutions 2018-2019 recommended budget adjustments. The Governor’s plan prioritizes safer and stronger public schools, provides more workforce training for high-paying jobs, and protects the health of families across North Carolina – all without raising taxes.
“Our economic recovery has been good for those at the very top, but many families are still struggling to get ahead. My budget makes middle class families a priority and ensures that all North Carolinians have opportunities to find good jobs, put more money in their pockets, and raise their families in safe and healthy communities,” said Governor Cooper.
Governor Cooper’s budget allocates $24.5 billion and makes crucial investments in education and job training, health care, economic development and public safety. The budget achieves these goals without raising taxes or borrowing from special funds.
“My budget starts with public education because schools are the focal point of success. A quality teacher in every classroom and a quality principal in every school make for great public schools. They shouldn’t have to take to the streets to get the respect they deserve,” added Governor Cooper.
Stronger and Safer Schools
Governor Cooper’s budget gives educators a meaningful raise, takes concrete steps to improve school safety and lays out a plan to make North Carolina a Top Ten Educated State.
In his budget, the Governor proposes an average 8% teacher pay raise this year, with every teacher receiving at least a 5% raise. This includes veteran teachers who have been left behind in the legislature’s teacher pay plan. The budget pays for the teacher raise by targeting the scheduled income tax cuts to the middle class, freezing additional tax breaks for income over $200,000 a year and corporations.
The budget puts North Carolina on track to reach the national average in teacher pay in 4 years and to be a Top Ten Educated State by 2025 by adding 2,000 pre-K slots, proposing $25 million for textbooks and digital learning and providing educators a $150 stipend to cover out-of-pocket classroom supplies. It authorizes $75 million to begin to fix the class size chaos caused by the General Assembly’s unfunded class size mandates. It also includes $2.5 million to bolster student support services at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
The budget leaves room for a school construction bond of up to $2 billion that Governor Cooper believes the legislature should ask voters to pass in 2018.
The budget takes concrete steps to improve school safety and youth mental health and includes $130 million to hire more support personnel like nurses and school resource officers and upgrade facilities to be more secure. For more on that proposal, please click HERE.
Additionally, the budget supports North Carolina’s veterans and military families. It restores full funding to the North Carolina Scholarship for Children of Wartime Veterans for the children of veterans killed or disabled during combat and establishes a position in benefits administration so veterans can more easily get the support they have earned.
NC Job Ready
Earlier this year, Governor Cooper laid out NC Job Ready, his key priorities to develop a strong workforce. The Governor’s budget invests in those priorities to train and grow our state’s skilled-workforce to recruit high paying jobs to North Carolina. It provides $30 million in the NC GROW (Getting Ready for Opportunities in the Workforce) program – free training at community colleges for high-demand industries. It includes $20 million in Finish Line Grants to help students on the cusp of graduation but facing financial difficulties finish their degrees. And NC Job Ready includes $10 million that will help employers provide on-the-job training. For more information on this proposal, click HERE.
Healthier Families and Safer Communities
Governor Cooper’s budget increases access to healthcare, protects our state’s natural resources and improves safety in North Carolina’s prisons, creating safer and healthier communities for families.
The budget recommends closing the health insurance coverage gap by expanding Medicaid to cover 670,000 North Carolinians and inject $4 billion in our economy. In addition, the budget proposal adds more than $9 million to increase community mental health funding and treatment to combat the opioid crisis.
To ensure North Carolinians’ health isn’t threatened by dangerous polluters, the budget provides $14.5 million to give state experts the resources to protect our air and drinking water, combat emerging contaminants like GenX and upgrade our state’s outdated permitting system. For more information on this proposal, click HERE.
Finally, Governor Cooper’s budget takes meaningful steps to address unacceptable violence in state prisons, investing $28 million to improve the safety and security of corrections staff and the communities they serve.
More Money in Families’ Pockets
Governor Cooper’s budget invests in good jobs for all of North Carolina. It provides $43 million to strengthen rural North Carolina, expanding access to broadband and improving infrastructure necessary to recruit good jobs. Another $13 million will help develop economic development sites and recruit new industries.
The budget offers state employees their largest raise in a decade and a cost of living adjustment for state retirees. It provides every state employee with a recurring $1,250 raise or 2% - whichever is greater. State law-enforcement officers and institution-based personnel such as corrections officers will receive an additional $1,000 recurring raise. Retirees would receive a 1% recurring cost of living adjustment. It includes $20 million for the Salary Adjustment Fund to implement the new market-based classification and compensation system. And to further enhance staffing at North Carolina prisons, it provides $10 million to create a 457-supplemental retirement contribution system for certified State Correctional Officers.
Rebuilding from Hurricane Matthew and Saving for the Future
Hurricane Matthew devastated eastern North Carolina and caused $4.8 billion in damage. While North Carolina has already disbursed more than $630 million for recovery, more work remains to rebuild communities even stronger than they were before.
Governor Cooper’s budget provides an additional $139.5 million to help families still recovering and takes steps to prepare for future storms. The budget sets aside an additional $184 million for our state’s Rainy Day Fund so we can be prepared for the next storm or unforeseen disaster that hits.
“My budget shows what we can accomplish with the right priorities. This is a balanced proposal that lowers taxes, improves our schools and helps North Carolinians get better paying jobs and live healthier lives. My plan ensures that families across North Carolina will benefit from our state’s success,” said Governor Cooper.
For a link to Governor Cooper’s budget, please click HERE.