The 7 percent teacher pay raise contained in a $21.25 billion budget legislative leaders announced this week would vault North Carolina's pay ranking from 45th to 32nd nationally and raise it from ninth to fourth in the South, according to figures from the North Carolina Legislature and the National Education Association.
House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger on Tuesday announced the agreement that raises the average teacher pay to $49,117, from $45,737.
The $282 million investment will be largest teacher pay raise in state history, the legislative leaders said, adding that it also would preserve teacher assistant positions, protect classroom funding and continue to give superintendents broad flexibility to tailor classroom spending to their districts' needs.
Charts provided by state Rep. Chuck McGrady showed that combined with the state's longevity pay scale, pay raises will range from 18.5 percent for fifth year teachers — $30,800 to $36,500 — to .29 percent for teachers in their 30th year — $50,536 to $51,536. (See StepPay chart)
The budget boosts early-career teacher pay by 14 percent over the next two years to $35,000, fulfilling a commitment House and Senate leaders made in February.
Analysts for various interests dug into the budget on Thursday and some said the large commitment for the teacher pay raises might not be sustainable in light of tax cuts the Legislature enacted last year.
The News&Observer published a story that detailed the cuts to other agencies and the revenue projections that fund the budget.
“The knowledge that there is a higher cost to the tax plan passed last year is not reflected in this budget, which calls into question whether this budget is really sustainable, not in the long term but even over this fiscal year,” Alexandra Sirota, of the liberal-leaning N.C. Budget and Tax Center, told the News & Observer.