RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – Republicans in the state House of Representatives said on Friday they will propose pay increases for state employees that are “much more” than what the Senate approved on Friday. last month, but do not give details yet.
Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) said that as the House prepares to take over the state budget, pay increases are a key issue.
“The biggest thing that’s going to change is to look at some of the pay increases for state employees,” he said. The House wants to do more (and) really, the arguments are going to be about how much. ”
Saine said he expects the House to unveil its budget proposal by early August despite the current fiscal year starting July 1.
In addition, the Senate recently approved a two-year budget that would give most public servants, including teachers, a 3% increase over two years. The budget also includes one-off bonuses.
In addition, correctional workers would receive an average increase of 7% over two years given the challenges the Department of Public Safety has had to fill vacant positions.
We recently reported that four years after the deadly attack on Pasquotank Correctional Facility, approximately 30 percent of correctional officer positions are vacant.
Suzanne Beasley, director of government relations for the State Employees Association of North Carolina, said that while the proposed increases for correctional officers could help resolve staffing issues, she was surprised at the proposed increases for other public servants.
“There is a ton of one-time money. We are drowning in money. So (I’m) a little surprised it’s that low, ”she said.
She continued, however, “Better wages will make it easier to get people to come and work for the state and provide public services that are crucial to people living in North Carolina.”
Additionally, heads of state recently learned that North Carolina is expected to receive about $ 6.5 billion more than expected over the next two years.
Senate Republicans have proposed a series of tax cuts, arguing it was proof the state was taking too much from taxpayers.
The plan would reduce personal income taxes for the median household by 37% in 2022.
Senate Leader Phil Berger (right) said he didn’t think the state should spend more than what Republicans in the General Assembly had previously agreed to spend.
In the fiscal year that began July 1, they proposed spending $ 25.7 billion and increasing that amount to $ 26.6 billion the following year.
“What we’re trying to do is provide reasonable salary increases for educators and our other government employees without creating a basic problem with the overall budget,” Berger said.
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has asked educators to receive an average increase of 10 percent over the next two years.
In 2019, he vetoed the state budget, calling the increases at the time “paltry.”
He and the Republicans never came to a resolution.
Cooper recently criticized Senate Republicans for moving forward with their tax cut plan and failing to address some of the spending priorities he outlined.
Saine said that even proposing higher pay increases for state employees, the House still plans to stick to the deal with the Senate on the total amount of spending over the next two years.
“There’s room to play and shift a few priorities here and there and figure out the best way to do it, but we think we can,” Saine said.