by: Jenna Deery Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A state senator is blasting Mecklenburg County Commissioners for a proposed sales tax increase that they say will help teachers.
Senator Joel Ford, a Democrat, told Eyewitness News he does not support the measure board Democrats approved two weeks ago to ask voters in November to raise sales taxes a quarter of a cent.
He said state lawmakers had no idea the proposal was coming, but believes commissioners should have contacted Mecklenburg County's state delegation to discuss the plan since state lawmakers have been debating the issue of teacher pay for months.
"Mecklenburg County and the commissioners need to understand that they are not operating in a vacuum. They are part of a state system," said Sen. Ford. "[I am] disappointed in the County Commission in particular the leadership of Commissioner Fuller for not going to Raleigh with this."
In 2008, state lawmakers gave county governments the power to levy taxes up to 7.5 percent. This is the first time Mecklenburg County leaders have exercised that state-given right, but Ford says the county's move goes against the state's effort to lower taxes while tackling teacher pay.
"Mecklenburg County should not be trying to act on its own. We have to make sure that the legislators in Raleigh are fulfilling their constitutional duties to pay teachers in this state," said Ford.
State lawmakers have not passed a budget yet. Spending plans from the governor, Senate and House all include teacher pay raises, but the amounts vary.
Eyewitness News reached out to Chairman Trevor Fuller to get his response to Ford's comments, but did not hear back by air time.