CHARLOTTE — N.C. Sen. Dan Bishop said the recently passed $23.9 billion state budget is a win for North Carolina.
The budget includes across-the-board raises for state employees, including teachers, limits new spending and expands the state’s rainy-day fund while keeping past tax cuts intact, Bishop said.
The Charlotte Republican is seeking a second term in the November general election.
Chad Stachowicz is the Democratic Party nominee for District 39. Stachowicz said the budget doesn’t go far enough in meeting the state’s needs.
The state’s budget underwent adjustments in the current short session of the General Assembly and includes average pay raises of 6.5 percent for teachers, 7 percent for principals and 8 percent for Highway Patrolman. All state employees will receive at least a 2-percent increase. Correctional officers will also get a bump in pay.
Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, vetoed the measure June 6 but the Republican-dominated State Senate voted to override the veto the next day. The State House followed suit and voted to override Cooper’s veto on June 12. Cooper’s budget plan included an extra $600 million in spending and blocked a 2019 corporate income tax rate decrease and an individual income tax rate reduction for the highest wage earners that was approved last year.
Bishop said past tax cuts and keeping a watchful eye on spending by the Republican-controlled General Assembly the past several years has put the state on solid fiscal footing.
“It is a good example of several years of stable management of state government,” Bishop said. “We are now getting to the point where we can now take on a broader range of the high priority items. … Although it is getting close to the upper range of growth that I am comfortable with, it is meeting priorities.”
Stachowicz agrees with Cooper and feels the General Assembly should have provided more money for teachers, as well as better school safety and infrastructure needs. He also criticized Republican leaders on how the budget was crafted.
“Any budget that is made in a backroom with one party without any amendments, regardless with what is in that budget, cannot be possibly talking to its constituents,” Stachowicz said. “A teacher changed my life when I was in the third grade and changed the trajectory of it. Frankly, I don’t think we should be cutting any corners when it comes to the people that interact with our children every single day.”
Because of increased revenues while keeping a watchful eye on spending, Bishop said the state now has a rainy-day fund in excess of $2 billion. That money could be used for a natural disaster or if the state experiences another economic downturn.
“We added another $200 million to the state’s reserves, and we are doing all this in the context of dramatically lower taxes,” Bishop said. “We are seeing an economy that is widely rated by some as No. 1 in the country. It is really a rousing success. If we can stay on the path of fiscal responsibility, we will be able to do more as time goes by. It’s a good budget and it provides a lot of improvement and compensation to state employees. I’m proud of it.”