Teachers outraged by a proposed state budget are calling on lawmakers to change it. The budget, debated by lawmakers Tuesday afternoon, will cut thousands of teaching assistant positions, get rid of teacher tenure, and it does not include pay increases for teachers.
"I'm passionate about teaching, I got into it for that. I'm getting my masters for that, but I have two children of my own too and I can't provide for them what I would like to," said Lindsay Merritt.
She's been teaching in Charlotte for more than five years, but that hasn't had an effect on her salary.
"What I make now is what I made my first year of teaching," she said.
The North Carolina Association of Educators says that's because step increases that teachers would normally receive have been frozen for the past five years due to budget woes.
NCAE and NC's Superintendent of Schools says the proposed budget does very little to address low teacher salaries.
Opponents are also upset, because the budget would end pay increases for master's degrees. It would happen just as Merritt finishes up her degree from University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
"My student loans that I've taken out for this I'll have to pay out of pocket now."
Dr. Ellen McIntyre, dean of the College of Education at UNCC said persistent cuts to education could have a much larger effect.
"Yes, teachers will leave the state if they can make a higher salary in a neighboring state," she said.
Not everyone is opposed to the legislation. Iredell Statesville School Board member Bryan Shoemaker told Eyewitness News that there is no proof teachers with master's degrees perform better in the classroom. He also said eliminating tenure would help systems remove ineffective teachers.
The NCAE said if the budget passed it would challenge parts of the measure in court.
Shoemaker said the statement "once again proves that the NCAE doesn't care about what's best for students, they care about how it affects their pocketbook."
Republican lawmaker Charles Jeter said the two-year budget does plan on teacher pay raises in the 2014-2015 school year. He also said that Republicans passed a 1 percent pay raise for teachers in 2011.