NC House Budget Doubles Down On Lottery Ads
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina teachers would get average 5 percent raises without giving up their job protections or having teaching assistant cuts, according to the preliminary Republican House government spending plan released Tuesday.
The $21.1 billion spending plan, which is expected to clear the full House by the end of the week, would locate much of the money to pay for the raises through an expected jump in North Carolina Education Lottery revenues generated by more advertising.
The Senate proposal approved late last month cut the amount designated for teaching assistants almost in half to help pay for pay raises that average more than 11 percent. The Senate also required veteran teachers to agree to end their tenured status to receive the higher salaries.
"Unlike other budgets, this budget has no strings attached to it," Rep. Bryan Holloway, R-Stokes, co-chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said at a news conference unveiling the chamber's plan. "You do not have to give up tenure or give up anything to get your pay raise. It's just automatic."
But the proposal envisions the lottery giving $177 million more in net profits to the state in the next fiscal year, with nearly all of the money going to pay for classroom teachers. While the cap on lottery advertising would increase from 1 percent of overall lottery sales to 2 percent, lottery commercials also would have to disclose the longer odds of winning top prizes.
House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, said the measure would improve "integrity of the lottery and really get back to the place where it was sold to the citizens of North Carolina, where the payout and the proposition is honestly presented."
Still, the increase in advertising would be a turnabout for Republicans, who fought tooth and nail against the lottery for two decades until it was narrowly passed by the legislature in 2005. Many social conservatives still wish the lottery would fail or be repealed.
The House budget would be more in line with Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's spending plan on the public schools by funding his pilot program to determine how best to reward teachers considered the most effective or have additional duties, the documents say. The Senate did not contain the Career Pathways initiative. All three proposals follow through on raising the salary floor for new teachers to $33,000 annually.
Other rank-and-file state employees also would get flat $1,000 salary increases - slightly higher than what McCrory and the Senate offered - in the House plan, which is likely to clear the chamber by Friday. The House and Senate will then work out a final proposal to adjust the second year of the two-year budget approved last summer and give it to McCrory to seek his signature. The new fiscal year begins July 1.
On Medicaid reform, the House proposal steers clear of the Senate's demand that McCrory's administration stop working on a cost-saving initiative that Senate Republicans argue is unworkable and fails to achieve enough savings. The House also declines to trim back the Medicaid eligibility rolls by up to 15,000 people, as the Senate proposed.
The House also differs from the Senate plan by:
- requiring the state Medicaid director to be confirmed by the General Assembly for a five-year term. The Senate has no such requirement.
- declining to move the State Crime Lab from Attorney General's Office to the Department of Public Safety, as the Senate wants. Both chambers, however would move the State Bureau of Investigation away from the attorney general and to the public safety agency.
- moving the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to the Department of Public Safety. The Senate doesn't include that.