Republican leaders of the North Carolina Senate have released the highlights of their proposed state budget. The $22.9 billion plan represents a 2.5 percent increase in last year's spending.
If you're expecting some big surprise in this budget, Senate Pro-Tem Phil Berger says don’t. "This budget continues our philosophy of improving outcomes in public education, providing generous tax cuts for the middle class and job creators, controlling spending growth and saving for the future."
Let's take these one by one.
The Senate plan calls for teachers to get an average pay raise around 3.7 percent next year. Principals would also get a pay bump. Overall $600 million more state dollars would be spent on staff and schools.
This budget includes the Senate's self-proclaimed billion dollar middle class tax cut. A measure some House Republicans say may go too far. But Berger says, "We are optimistic that we will be able to get all this done."
Saving For The Future
The budget also calls for an additional $360 million be added to the state's rainy day fund.
This budget does represent a small overall increase in spending. But this is also where North Carolina's new political dynamic is coming into play. This budget will eventually hit the desk of a Democratic governor, a first since the Republicans took over the General Assembly.
And Senator Berger said that's where the spending controls come in. "What you'll find is that in this budget and Governor Cooper's budget proposal are many of the same funding priorities. The difference is simply different spending levels."
Case in point, Governor Roy Cooper's budget called for 4,700 more pre-k slots for four year olds. The Senate's plan calls for half that.
These are just the highlights as presented by the Senate leadership. Full details of the budget and how they'll pay for the plan have yet to be released.