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NC Teachers Want More Education Funding: Who Pays?

Teachers are asking for more funding per student, higher pay, increased school support staff and updated school buildings and supplies.

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- As teacher's prepare to rally in Raleigh on May 16, we're getting a clearer picture of exactly what they're rallying for.

Teachers are asking for more funding per student, higher pay, increased school support staff and updated school buildings and supplies.

But for lawmakers to meet these demands, it would of course take money.

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Right now, funding for education makes up roughly 57 percent of North Carolina's budget. Average teacher pay for this year was $51,214, according to the NC Department of Public Instruction.

Teachers are asking for pay to be increased to the national average. According to the National Education Association, average teacher pay was $60,483 this school year.

WFMY News 2 talked with the North Carolina Association of Educators. We asked what teachers would want to see cut, in order to pay for more education funding.

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"Well, obviously that's the decision the General Assembly has to make. But they begin by putting a cap on tax cuts to corporations," NCAE President Mark Jewell explained.

Since 2013, North Carolina has reduced the corporate tax rate from 6.9 percent to 3 percent. It is supposed to go down to 2.5 percent in January of 2019.

The cuts equal a loss of $3.8 billion in tax revenue, according to the General Assembly's Fiscal Research Division.

The North Carolina Association of Educators says that money should have gone to educators. They want the corporate tax rate restored to 6.9% and the money to go to education.

However, Republican Representative Jon Hardister disagrees.

"Our goal is to be toward the top in teacher pay. But to get there you have to grow the economy. Cutting the corporate tax rate has allowed the economy to grow, which has resulted in more budget revenue that we can invest in the core services of government. Which we can invest in public education," Rep. Hardister said.

He says corporate tax cuts have lead to job growth of roughly 400,000 jobs.

"That's money that's in the pocket of hardworking North Carolinians," he said. "It's also money that businesses are using to invest in their employees, to grow their company and when that happens there's more budget revenue because there's a stronger economy."

He credits the cuts for leading to the budget surplus this year of roughly $356 million dollars. Hardister claims we can expect at least half of that surplus to go to education.

The NC Association of Educators says that would be a good start but not nearly enough to cover pay raises and updated classroom supplies.

Democratic Representative Amos Quick said he believes lawmakers should look into raising the corporate tax rate as a possible solution.

"I think it's a discussion worthy of having. I think that as we have cut the tax rate, it has had unintended consequences. One of the unintended consequences that you can draw a direct line to, is that we have failed to fund and pay for teacher salaries and bring our teachers back to the national average," Representative Quick said.

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