The House passed a fiscally-responsible budget this week that received overwhelming support from both sides of the political aisle. The 2016 Appropriations Act (H.B. 1030) continues to fund our core priorities, while providing tax relief for working families and setting the stage for continued growth and success for North Carolina.
One of my biggest priorities in Raleigh is improving our state’s public schools, which I believe starts with increasing the competitiveness of our teacher salaries. The House budget continues our goal of raising average teacher pay to at least $50,000 per year over the next two years. Under this proposal, teachers would receive an average salary increase of 4.7%.
In addition to salary increases for teachers, all permanent full-time state employees receive a two percent raise and a $500 bonus and state retirees receive a 1.6% Cost of Living Adjustment. Altogether, this budget provides over $460 million in compensation increases for our teachers, Highway Patrol, Clerks, Magistrates, and our dedicated state employees.
The House funds our state’s core priorities with an understanding that we must be good stewards of taxpayer money. It provides tax cuts for working families by increasing the zero tax bracket by $2,000 over four years to include more taxpayers. Nearly 80% of North Carolinians file their taxes under the zero bracket/standard deduction. Further, the budget provides an additional $300 million into the state’s rainy day fund to avoid drastic cuts in the event of another economic downturn.
Here are some other highlights of the House budget:
Education is fully funded to match enrollment growth;
Drivers Education is funded beyond 2017 to help train responsible drivers;
Maintenance and repair funds for our roads are increased;
$1 million is added to the Tobacco Trust Fund to encourage a strong agricultural industry;
An additional $5 million is provided for Water Resources projects to improve the quality and to ensure the safety of our drinking water; and,
It increases the State’s contribution to the State Health Plan by 3.43% in order to plan for future needs.
The House passed the budget with strong bipartisan (103-12) and I believe this budget further solidifies North Carolina’s status as a great place to live, work, and raise a family.
The bill now heads over to the Senate where that chamber will make changes reflecting their priorities. Once the Senate has acted, members of the House and Senate will be appointed to the conference committee to iron out the differences before sending it to Governor McCrory for his signature. Needless to say, the process is not quite yet finished, but the House passage is one step closer to the finish line.
It is an honor to represent you in the North Carolina House. If my office can ever be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact our office at 919-733-5609. Subscribe to receive weekly updates from us by emailing me at Kyle.Hall@ncleg.net.