North Carolina's long reputation as a state that highly values public education is up for a vote this year. NC voters will decide in this year's midterm elections whether the record of the Republican legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory are to their liking, or whether the legislature should switch back to Democratic control. McCrory has promised to raise the salaries of inexperienced teachers from $30,800 to $35,000 by fall 2015, but has made no promises about raises for other, more experienced teachers. The governor and legislative leaders say the state is too cash-strapped this year to give all teachers a raise because of a multi-billion tax cut enacted last year.
The state's average teacher salary of $45,737 a year during 2012-13 was more than $10,000 below the national average.
Former Governor Jim Hunt, who served four terms, has proposed that the state's elected leadership pass a law in 2014 to raise teacher salaries to the national average, in stages, through 2018. The people of the state, he says, "want our state to make a bipartisan, iron-clad commitment this year to raise teacher pay to the national average in four years."
NC plunged to 49th in per-pupil education spending in the 2011-12 budget cycle, when the GOP legislature removed a one-cent sales tax for education, despite a veto from then-governor Beverly Perdue. The veto was sustained. The legislature also decided in 2013 that tax cuts for businesses and vouchers for private schools were more important than public education spending. They stripped teachers of tenure and higher salaries for advanced degrees.