Gov. Cooper’s proposed budget includes teacher raises, child care funding

Gov. Roy Cooper released his recommended budget “First in Opportunity” for fiscal years 2023-2025 on Wednesday.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 12:47 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2023 at 2:55 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - Gov. Roy Cooper released his recommended budget “First in Opportunity” for fiscal years 2023-2025 on Wednesday, which includes raises for teachers and funding for child care and mental health.

The budget would increase teacher pay by an average of 10% in FY 2023 and 6% in FY 2024 and set the minimum starting salary at $46,000 in addition to local contributions. This would put the state up from 32nd in the nation in teacher pay to 16th.

As for child care, Cooper recommends $1.5 billion in new funding for child care and early childhood education needs, including $500 million for grants to help maintain access to affordable early childhood education and $200 million to increase child care subsidies for rural and lower wealth communities.

Cooper suggests using $1 billion of the Improve Health Outcomes for People Everywhere (IHOPE) fund to make mental health services available to more people and build systems to support people in crisis or with complex behavioral needs.

The workforce is another key point in the budget, with funding for community colleges, universities, internships and credentialing. Cooper’s office says the budget would include tax breaks for middle-class families and maintain the recently reduced rates for wealthy people and corporations. The budget keeps almost $7 billion in reserves to make sure the state is ready for a downturn.

Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) called the proposal “reckless” in a statement.

“This is an irresponsible, unserious proposal from a lame-duck governor who wants future North Carolinians to pick up his tab,” states the release from Berger’s office. “He is following the same failed Democratic playbook that is causing residents to flee blue states like New York, California, and Illinois.”

NC House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) also opposes the budget recommendations.

“The General Assembly will continue on the fiscally responsible path that has made our state attractive to so many. Now Governor Cooper is proposing a budget that effectively eliminates the tax cuts that will help North Carolinians make ends meet and have attracted families and businesses to our state,” he said in a statement.

You can see the full budget recommendations on the Office of State Budget and Management website.