Paul Fogleman,

Yesterday, Tuesday, May 29, the Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly rolled out their $23.9 spending plan for the state. No debate was allowed and no amendments permitted. Questions were heard, mainly from Democrats who were shut out of the process.

The budget this year embraces the $15 per hour minimum wage. The starting wage for state employees including maintenance personnel, will be $31,200. Some current employees will get a 30 percent wage increase when boosted to the new minimum. Teachers will get a 6.5 percent increase in starting salaries and the top echelon teachers will be raised to $52,000. Some $22.5 million is included for bonuses to teachers who improve reading and math scores in elementary schools. Veteran state employees will get a 2 percent wage increase. Law enforcement and security personnel also were targeted for higher than average increases. The starting wage for a highway patrol officer was boosted to $44,000 and corrections center guards receive increases.

The budget will be taken to the floors of the House and Senate this week for approval, expected to be along party lines. The leaders reportedly have selected a recess—or maybe adjournment—date for the third week of June. Still to come are proposed amendments to the State Constitution, including one that would set a cap on state income taxes.

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