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The Daily Tar Heel

Pat McCrory's budget is mixed bag for UNC system

Gov. McCrory’s budget plan would not raise faculty and staff pay.

But UNC-system President Tom Ross said in a statement he was disappointed to see a small cut to the system’s budget, as well as no raises for faculty and staff. The reduction includes an $18 million cut to the money campuses use for private fundraising.

“It’s simply about being effective stewards of taxpayer money,” said Lee Roberts, the state budget director.

Ross applauded the proposed investments in East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine and Elizabeth City State University, which have both struggled financially in recent years amid budget cuts to universities.

McCrory would give Brody School of Medicine $16 million over two years.

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard mentioned in early February that the school might have to close in five years if it didn’t get help from the state — though he later clarified his remarks, saying the school wouldn’t close.

“We are encouraged that (McCrory’s) budget proposal demonstrates his understanding of our impact on the region and state,” said Paul Cunningham, dean of the school, in an email.

Under the proposal, veterans would receive in-state tuition for UNC-system schools — which has been a priority for higher education leaders.

On K-12 education, McCrory would raise beginning teachers’ salaries to $35,000 with his budget.

Rob Schofield, director of research and policy development for N.C. Policy Watch, said he’s hesitant to say that the proposed pay hike for starting teachers is a sufficient solution.

“The problem, of course, is that it isn’t just beginning teachers who are underpaid. We have huge problems with experienced teachers who are underpaid, and it’s clear that they all should be paid significantly more than they are right now,” Schofield said. “Every little bit, I suppose, is better than nothing.”

McCrory’s K-12 plan also allows flexibility for local schools to spend $70 million on textbooks, laptops and other resources. Republican state leadership has faced criticism in the past for cutting teaching assistants and classroom needs.

The budget process likely will last until at least June 30, which marks the end of the fiscal year. The N.C. House of Representatives and Senate have to pass their own proposals and come to a consensus before sending it to McCrory’s desk.

state@dailytarheel.com

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