GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. - A growing number of teachers plan to confront lawmakers about pay and funding.
The legislative session starts on May 16th in Raleigh and the main topic will be the state budget. It's also the day teachers will rally in Raleigh and their main topic is asking for more money.
Last week, we got reaction from Democrats, and this week – we’re hearing from Republicans.
We spoke with two of the top Republicans in North Carolina: Speaker of the House Tim Moore and President Pro Tem of the Senate Phil Berger. They say the maximum budget is about $23 billion dollars, and education funding accounts for more than half of the projected budget.
But educators are asking for more - across the board. Both Senate and House leaders say they're willing to listen. But, they point out over the past five years, they've put pay raises in the budget, and this year is no different.
“Teacher raises have been a part of what we have done on a fairly consistent basis,” Berger said, “We will listen to them. We will listen to any constituent that comes forward with information, but you know teacher strikes are illegal in North Carolina. And in some respects, what we are seeing looks like a work slowdown.”
“If you look at the other states where these protests happen, they have not been as generous in the budgets that we’ve passed,” said Moore, “I am a parent of two sons in the public schools. I want my kids like every other child in the state to have their teachers there. I mean we are in the process of getting ready to have EOG tests and EOC tests and this is a critical time for students.”
Representative John Hardister says he supports increases - but it will take time for the average salary in North Carolina to reach the national average.
“We should be towards the top and teacher pay, but you cannot get there overnight, it takes time,” said Hardister, “They have legitimate concerns. Again, I prefer that they don’t disrupt the classroom, but at the same time we’re only in session a certain period of time during the year.”
In a statement, Representative Donny Lambeth said:
“This is such a great country, and one of the things that makes it great is our Democratic process. Anyone who has a complaint, or like an issue can go to Washington DC, their state capital or down to city hall and express their views. Then periodically you get to vote for persons who share your views or whom you do not support. I love this great State and this Country because of the freedoms I have. Protest like the one next week and support just like the Franklin Graham rally last year are part of our fabric that weaves us all together. And for those freedoms we should not take them for granted. We can worship as we choose and we can vote the direction we want this State to go.”
Senator Joyce Krawiec sent a statement reading:
“I have heard that there is a rally planned for Raleigh by some teachers. We have listened to teachers and gave them the raises they deserved. We will continue to improve the compensation for teachers. I look forward to speaking with many of them while they are in Raleigh. “
To hear more of what those democratic leaders had to say – click here.
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