Proposal would give NC corrections officers raises, bonuses

The proposal includes a new salary schedule for corrections officers


By Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan
The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

RALEIGH, N.C. — As North Carolina's three most powerful politicians negotiate the state budget in the coming week or two, tens of thousands of teachers and other state employees are waiting on the answer to a big question: How much of a raise will they be getting?

And what about bonuses?

As a politically purple state, North Carolina has divided government: Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and a Republican-majority General Assembly led by Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore.

Moore said on Wednesday that he and Berger had reached an agreement that morning on a compromise budget proposal between the two Republican-led chambers, without giving details of how they compromised. They will send Cooper their proposal this week as negotiations "begin in earnest," according to Berger's spokesman.

Cooper, Moore and Berger will try to reach a compromise before the legislature passes the budget. That would bypass a potential veto and override, and could get raises and bonuses in the bank accounts of state workers this fall.

The latest version of the budget bill, Senate Bill 105, would pay out bonuses by Oct. 31 if it becomes law.

Billions of dollars in surplus and an influx of federal money means the state is flush as it plans its financial future for the next two years.

Here's how the Senate, House and Cooper propose to compensate workers:

Teacher raises

The proposed House budget would give teachers raises of an average of about 4% the first year, 5.5% combined over two years. The House proposal emphasizes raises for veteran teachers.

The Senate would give teachers an average of 3% raises over two years.

The governor proposed average teacher raises of 10% over the next two years.

State employee raises

The Senate proposed 3% raises over two years for most state employees as well as teachers. The Senate wants an average raise of 7% for corrections officers, who would also get a newly created salary schedule based on experience.

The House proposed an average of 5% raises over two years for state employees — 2.5% each year. And it also would give corrections officers 7% raises.

Cooper's budget proposal calls for an average 5% raise over two years for state employees. He also proposed a new salary schedule for corrections officers.

Bonuses for teachers, principals, COVID-19 workers

The governor's budget, House budget and Senate budget all include significant bonuses for state workers.

The General Assembly's bonus plans also spend federal dollars on bonuses for those who worked in-person during the pandemic.

In the Senate budget, state employees who earn less than $75,000 a year would receive $1,500, and those who make more than $75,000 would receive $1,000 bonuses. There would also be bonuses of $1,500 for law enforcement, correctional officers and staff and employees of 24-hour residential and treatment facilities.

Additional bonuses across the board would go to teachers, who would get $300, and principals, who would get $1,800.

The House budget also calls for $300 bonuses for teachers, and principals would get $1,800 bonuses.

The House budget proposed that some state employees and local education employees at risk of COVID-19 exposure while working during the pandemic will get $500 bonuses. An additional, $1,000 bonus would be given to some full-time state employees and local education employees who earn less than $75,000 if they worked from March 10, 2020 through Oct. 1, 2021.

Those employees include: public school principal, law enforcement officer, and those in the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice of the Department of Public Safety with job duties requiring frequent in-person contact, or in a position at a 24-hour residential or treatment facility operated by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Those same workers would receive another $500 bonus if they earn less than $40,000 a year.

Cooper's budget proposal would give $2,000 bonuses for teachers, principals and all public school personnel this fiscal year and another $1,000 bonus each of the next two years, totaling $4,000 in bonuses.

Master's degree pay for teachers

Cooper's proposal would restore additional pay for teachers with master's degrees. So would the House proposal. The Senate would not.

Retirees

Cooper proposed retired state employees get cost-of-living adjustment raises: a recurring 2% raise and an additional 2% raise each of the next two years.

The House budget calls for a 2% bonus for retirees each of the next two years.

The Senate budget does not have COLA raises or bonuses for retirees.

For more North Carolina government and politics news, listen to the Under the Dome politics podcast from The News & Observer and the NC Insider. You can find it at link.chtbl.com/underthedomenc or wherever you get your podcasts.

(c)2021 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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