“There was no statement there that he had support from legislative leadership, there was no public announcement from legislative leaders that they were working together on the budget proposal.”
McCrory’s press office did not respond to emails or phone calls for comment.
Jacob Smith, a Ph.D. student at UNC who teaches in the political science department, said the governor is expected to make these types of proposal announcements during this time of year.
“I imagine this has been in the works for some time, presumably he was going to announce it sometime before this legislative session,” he said.
Smith said the education proposal is designed to appeal to more moderate voters; whereas, House Bill 2 has galvanized both conservative and liberal groups in the state.
“The sort of people who this is more targeted toward are the people who are sort of more in the middle — the swing voters,” he said.
Meyer said he predicted the governor would propose teacher salary increases last year and questions the practicality of the budget proposal in addressing teachers’ issues.
“It’s not a real plan for helping people who are employed by the state — It’s a political stunt to try and change the topic around (H.B. 2),” he said.
Mark Jewell, vice president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said he was disappointed the governor’s proposal in a statement.
“Once again there is no long-range plan to elevate public school educators to the head of the class,” he said. “Only election year proposals that do little to make up for years of disrespecting the education profession and dismantling our public schools.”
With turnover rates already rising amongst educators, Jewell said McCrory’s proposal offers little to education support professionals.
But Bitzer said McCrory’s budget proposal considers both new and more experienced teachers, which could improve teacher retention.
“That is different from what has happened in the past because the last go around they primarily focused on entry-level teachers; now I think they’re trying to do the broad range of all teachers in terms of salary,” he said.
By appealing to a larger demographic of teachers, the proposal avoids alienating or irritating teachers who have dedicated a lot of time to the profession but have yet to see significant pay increases, Bitzer said.
He said McCrory’s budget proposal could start a more positive approach toward teacher recruitment and retention.
“Whether this will be the main attraction or will help to reverse that tide, I think it’s anybody’s guess right now,” Bitzer said.
Earlier this year, N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said he anticipated a 2 percent average salary increase for teachers — less than the 5 percent proposal.
These discrepancies are typical, Bitzer said.
“When you have separate branches of government having to share power over a state budget, this is where the lines get drawn,” he said. “And ultimately they will come to a compromise and a resolution, but this is all part of the game of politics.”
But Meyer said given the lack of coordination with General Assembly leaders, McCrory’s proposal will not benefit teachers.
“(The legislature is) not interested in doing anything we really need to do like bringing teacher’s salaries up to the national average,” he said. “I believe that the public’s patience with this legislature is going to wear thin.”