• Experts: McCrory sticking to education pledge in budget plan

    By: Kathryn Burcham


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Political experts call Gov. Pat McCrory's budget plan conservative, but said he is sticking to his pledge to make education a priority.

    McCrory announced details of his new $20.6 billion budget Wednesday morning.

    "This is a very serious budget, it's a tough budget, but it's a budget that's concentrating on our priorities," McCrory said.

    More than half of the money is pledged to the state's education system, with money for community colleges, pre-K classes and digital technology.

    The plan also calls for funding to hire 1,800 teachers statewide and also give teachers and all state workers a 1 percent pay raise.

    Other items in the budget include an upgrade of the state's computer system; nearly $3 million to create a new "branding and marketing strategy" for the state to draw in national and international business and tourism; and money to fund "drug courts," a program that had previously been cut by the legislature.

    "I think this is kind of the standard, first year of a new governor, getting his feet into the system," said political expert Michael Bitzer.

    Bitzer called some of the measures, including the marketing strategy, a big step forward for the governor.

    Bitzer said McCrory failed to make a single mention of tax reform in the budget, which was a key platform issue during his campaign.

    "There's no real sense as to where he's going with that particular initiative in this budget, so he may be leaving it up to the legislature to do," Bitzer said.

    Channel 9 reached out to several CMS Board members and members of local education support groups, but most said they wanted more time to read over the budget before making a comment.

    One school board member did say they hope the education reform items make it through the legislature approval process intact.

    Next Up: