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Teacher pay raises, SRO program, water and wastewater infrastructure projects included in new proposed state budget

The budget includes an additional recurring $15 million for the School Resource Officer Grant program, specifically for elementary and middle schools.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Lawmakers have released a proposed spending plan for the new fiscal year. It includes increased money for salaries, education, school safety, infrastructure, among other items.

Among the $27.9 billion total, $15 million would go toward a deal to put a "collegiate sports employer" in North Carolina for the next 15 years.

Democratic state senator Michael Garrett, who represents Guilford County, confirmed the "employer" the bill refers to is the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The item in the bill specifically states, "the entity will locate and occupy within the State its headquarters facility for a continuous period of at least 15 years."

Senator Garrett says that the location within the state will be in Charlotte.

If the proposed budget passes, the ACC will leave Greensboro, its home for 70 years, and set up shop in Charlotte, taking about 50 jobs along with it.

Topline

  • Net appropriation for FY 2022-23 is $27.9 billion, which is a 7.2% increase from FY 2021-22.
  • The Rainy Day Fund balance will be $4.75 billion at the end of the biennium.
  • Transfers $1 billion into a newly created State Inflationary Reserve in anticipation of a recession.

Salaries

  • Establishes a labor market salary reserve of $80 million for state agencies to address staff shortages and help recruit and retain capable employees.
  • A 3.5% pay raise for most state employees, for a 6% raise over the biennium.
  • On average, teachers will receive a 4.2% pay raise, bringing the average teacher pay raise to 6.7% over the biennium. Over the biennium, including bonuses, teachers will receive an average 14.2% additional compensation.
  • Increases the starting salary for entry level teachers.
  • Noncertified public school employees, like bus drivers, will receive either a 4% pay raise or an increase to $15/hour, whichever is greater.
  • An additional $70 million to the state-funded teacher salary supplement. This brings the total amount to $170 million. The budget increases the state-funded teacher supplement cap to $5,000.
  • Provides an additional 1% one-time retiree supplement for a total of 5% over the biennium.
  • Continues the enhanced COVID rates that the Department of Health and Human Services paid out to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Education

  • Funds an additional $1 billion over the FY 2021-22 amount for a total of $16.5 billion.
  • Includes $3.9 million to cover the copays for students that qualify for reduced-price lunches.
  • Funds an additional 124 literacy coaches and early learning specialists to aid in early literacy efforts.
  • A $431 million transfer over the biennium from the N.C. Education Lottery to the Needs-Based Public School Capital Building Fund. Over the course of the next 6 years, a projected $2.6 billion will be spent on school capital.
  • Expands the income level requirements for the Opportunity Scholarship Program so more families can send their children to a school of their choice. The new income eligibility level is equal to or less than 200% of the amount required for free or reduced-price lunch.
  • Allocates an additional $56 million in recurring funds to the Opportunity Scholarship Grant reserve, for a total of $150.8 million that can be awarded to families that qualify for the scholarship.
  • Provides an additional recurring $16.3 million to the Personal Education Student Accounts for Children with Disabilities Program, to clear the program’s waitlist. The program’s total funding in FY 2022-23 is $47.9 million.
  • Creates a recurring $250,000 grant for schools to purchase feminine hygiene products in schools.

School Safety

  • Provides an additional recurring $15 million for the School Resource Officer Grant program, specifically for elementary and middle schools.
  • Increases the state match for the School Resource Officer Grant program for low-wealth school districts to $4 per every $1 in non-state funds. All other school districts will be eligible for a state match of $2 per every $1 in non-state funds.
  • Provides an additional $32 million for School Safety Grants to support students in crisis, school safety training, and safety equipment in schools.
  • Allocates $26 million more to the At-Risk allotment to reflect the current salary necessary to provide one School Resource Officer for each high school.
  • Provides $5 million for cybersecurity and bomb threat preparedness at North Carolina’s HBCUs.
  • Requires the Center for Safer Schools to gather data on existing school safety systems, policies, and procedures, and to report information and recommendations for improving school safety to the General Assembly.

Capital/Infrastructure

  • Provides $883 million for water and wastewater infrastructure projects, bringing the total amount available for water and wastewater infrastructure for the biennium to $2.5 billion.
  • Provides $300 million to build a new Education Complex and Governor’s Office in downtown Raleigh, and to renovate and demolish other downtown government buildings.
  • Includes $250 million for a reserve to help defray cost overruns for state capital projects due to inflation.
  • Provides $120.8 million in additional capital grants to local governments and non-profit entities.

Other Items

  • Redirects 2% of sales tax revenue -- approximately $193.1 million -- to the Highway Fund to support a variety of transportation purposes, increasing to 6% in 2024-25 and thereafter. This is the first step to address declining transportation revenues to keep up with population growth.
  • Provides an additional $5 million for the GREAT Grants to expand broadband access in underserved areas. This increases the amount for GREAT Grants to $20 million recurring. The state expects to receive at least $100 million from the federal Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act for broadband.
  • Transfers $950 million to the State Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Reserve, of that $215.8 million is appropriated for disaster recovery efforts from previous events and mitigation efforts to prepare for future flooding and natural disasters.
  • Increases the NC Pre-K provider reimbursement rates by 5%. Private child care facilities, which were slated to receive a 4% rate increase with funds from the 2021 Appropriations Act, will now receive a 9% reimbursement rate increase in FY 2022-23.
  • Appropriates $1.8 million from the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) grant to update and maintain voter lists and to continue enhancing election technology and security improvements.
  • Provides $1 million to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina’s Megasite Readiness Program, with the intent to identify additional megasites in North Carolina.
  • Allocates $1 million to support the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub at Fayetteville State University.

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