Cooper presents full 2-year budget plan for NC; 9% teacher raise included


RALEIGH, NC – MAY 16: Governor Roy Cooper, D-NC address the crowd during the Rally for Respect outside the North Carolina Legislative Building on May 16, 2018 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Several North Carolina counties closed schools to allow teachers to march on the opening day of the General Assembly. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty […]

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP & WNCN) — North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper offered his ideas on how to spend state money for the next two years.

Cooper unveiled on Wednesday the details of his state budget proposal through mid-2021. His spending plan comes with more weight compared to the past two years because Republicans in charge of the legislature no longer can override his vetoes on their own.

Cooper unveiled parts of his spending proposal on Tuesday in Greensboro. The $3.9 billion debt package would include $2 billion for public schools and $500 million each for the community college and University of North Carolina systems. Other proceeds would benefit water systems, the North Carolina Zoo and Museum of History.

House Republicans back a $1.9 billion education bond referendum that cleared a committee Tuesday.

Cooper says his budget also includes average teacher pay raises of over 9 percent in two years. He wants $40 million for school police officers, nurses and other health providers.

He also said his proposal includes a Medicaid expansion plan and a rural economic development program.

Cooper said he recognizes he won’t get everything in his budget but hopes a bipartisan budget can be negotiated with the GOP.

“I know that I won’t get everything that I’ve asked for,” Cooper said. “We may be up here a long time because we’ve got some differences, but the sooner we can resolve those differences the sooner we can go home.”

Republican Sen. Ralph Hise said the governor’s spending plan goes too far.

“We really just have challenges with how much he’s spending overall, getting close to $25 billion now in an annual budget. That kind of spending increase just isn’t sustainable,” he said. “Our conflicts with Medicaid expansion are really with what the federal government has offered as a one-size-fits-all model. You either take it or you don’t.”

Republicans are split on the idea of holding a bond referendum next year for school construction. In the House, leaders are backing a bill to do that. However, in the Senate they’ve balked at the idea in favor of using money from the State Capital Infrastructure Fund, saying they don’t want to take on additional debt that would be paid by future generations.

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