Gov. Cooper says he supports teacher pay raises, but not at proposed rate

It's been several weeks since teachers across North Carolina returned to the classroom and with each passing day, the uncertainty of pay raises for those teachers hangs in the balance. 

“It is critical that we invest in public education. That we pay our teachers what they ought to be paid,” Governor Roy Cooper said.

Gov. Cooper was in Uptown Charlotte Tuesday to address the issue of teacher pay raises saying he's all for them, but not at the amount the General Assembly has proposed. 

“The budget shortchanges teachers that the general assembly passed. To have a 1.7, 1.8 percent pay raise for teachers next year and 3.8 over two years that's less than what other state employees got.,” he said. 

The governor says he is doing his part trying to negotiate. His original proposal was a 9.1 percent increase over the next two years. 

“I have come back with a reasonable compromise proposal at 8.5 percent and I have heard nothing. They are spending all of their time trying to override my veto without negotiating.” 

With no timetable when the budget will have a solution, Cooper says his message to the teachers is that he's not giving up. 

“What we need to do is continue to fight. I think the teachers want us to fight for more funds for education,” he said. 

The officer of the Speaker of the House Republican Tim Moore, however, says Cooper is just keeping money out of the hands of schools and educators to direct it toward Medicaid expansion. A statement from Moore's office reads: 

“This is just rhetoric from the Governor to obscure his record of prioritizing Medicaid expansion over the needs of education campuses by repeatedly vetoing powerful investments in public schools across North Carolina. 
 
The latest education budget Gov. Cooper vetoed contains a nearly $2 billion capital construction initiative to benefit school systems in every county, and a seventh consecutive teacher pay raise to continue our state’s impressive gains in national educator salary rankings.
 
Lawmakers will continue to fund state government priorities, including those for public schools, as the Governor insists on blocking investments in education until he gets his way on a separate issue."