• Legislators continue state budget debate over teacher raises

    By: Jim Bradley


    RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina legislators are back in Raleigh trying to hammer out a deal to raise teacher pay.
    Finding agreement between the House and Senate may be easier said than done, especially after listening to key players on Monday.
    "I'm not going to compromise on numbers that don't work," said Gov. Pat McCrory.  He's opposing a Senate plan that would offer teachers an 11 percent raise but also cut thousands of positions for teacher assistants and make deeper cuts to Medicaid too.
    McCrory is backing a plan in the state House that would give teachers a 6 percent raise. 
    But the infighting that's surfacing over the budget may have broader implications for Republican leaders in Raleigh who control the Governor’s office, the House and the Senate. 
    "I think this is a real tug-of-war within the Republican Party," said political expert Michael Bitzer.
    He said the disagreements between the governor and Senate leaders highlight ongoing tensions over who is really running state government.
    When McCrory was asked if he'd be willing to support a compromise with the North Carolina Senate, he said, "There's no point in discussion if the alternative is cutting 4,000 to 7,000 teacher assistants or cutting Medicaid. I'm not going to do it and I'm going to stay firm on that.
    Senate leaders are just as adamant that they're in control of the budget and the direction of North Carolina. 
    Republican Sen. Bob Rucho of Matthews said, "The General Assembly is who makes laws, not the governor. He has a hard time understanding that."
    Rucho said Senate leaders are open to compromising on the teacher pay increase issue and predicts a deal will get done with or without  McCrory's support. 
    "I will tell you this, the General Assembly will find a way to get this done," Rucho said.
    McCrory said, "I hope I don’t have to veto but I've had to threaten a veto on any proposal which threatens thousands of teacher assistants or threatens Medicaid.”        

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