Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed budget of $20.6 billion for the fiscal years of 2013-15 was released last week, and recommends a 2 percent cut for the UNC system. Both chambers of the N.C. General Assembly will present budget proposals before July.
McCrory’s proposed cuts would add to the nearly half a billion dollars already in lost funding for the system since 2011, including a loss of $65 million in the 2013-14 budget.
Charlie Perusse, the UNC-system chief operating officer, said the proposed cuts would remove almost $56 million from the system’s 2013-2014 budget of approximately $2.5 billion.
And early UNC system estimates have UNC-CH bearing the largest cut of all system schools — 5 percent of its current budget —a loss of about $24 million, Perusse said.
UNC-system president Tom Ross said in a press release the proposed cuts would make it more difficult for system schools to attract and retain faculty.
“While we will continue to search for additional efficiencies and savings, we cannot continue to shift the costs of higher education from the state to students and their families,” Ross said in the release.
Under McCrory’s proposal, smaller schools like UNC-Asheville, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University and Winston Salem State University would be exempt from the cuts.
In addition, McCrory’s proposal recommends a $1,000 base salary increase for most state employees, including those of the UNC system.
In comparison, the starting salary of K-12 public school teachers with zero to seven years of experience would be raised from $30,800 to $33,000 annually.
Matt Hickson, statewide director of the N.C. Student Power Union criticized McCrory’s budget for funding K-12 teachers’ pay raise with a cut to the UNC system.
“I think it’s unfortunate that Gov. McCrory is pitting advocates for higher education against each other and the UNC system against our K-12 schools,” he said.
Rodney Ellis, president of the N.C. Association of Educators, said the salary increase is a positive step, but is concerned about public schools’ ability to retain teachers of more than seven years.
The teachers would see an average pay increase of 2 to 4.3 percent in McCrory’s proposal.
“To me that’s insufficient when you consider that these are our most valued educators in our schools, because they do have the experience to be effective,” Ellis said.
He said he would like to see a salary increase of at least 5 percent for all educators, regardless of experience.
Hickson said North Carolina needs to invest in education long-term.
“It’s the engine that has driven our state for years,” he said.
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