Legislators in Raleigh were touting some details about the raises state employee will receive, in advance of the full budget release next week.
At a Thursday afternoon press conference, lead budget writers from both chambers of the legislature announced a modest bump of 2 percent for "most" rank and file state employees. State correctional officers will receive an average 4 percent pay increase, while implementing a new pay plan for State Highway Patrol Troopers. The proposal grows starting pay to $44,000, up from $38,000, increases the top pay for those officers to $64,200 and gets members of the force to the top of the pay scale in six years. Republican Senator Harry Brown (R-Onslow) announced that highway patrol officers will see an average 8 percent rise in compensation.
"Our goal here was very simple – to get the best deal possible," said Robert Broome, executive director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC). "And I believe we were able to do that. Not only were we able to do something for all state employees, but to also address critical needs in two very key, important areas."
Those areas are prisons and employees at the lowest rung of the payscale ladder.
"For our under-staffed and overworked correctional personnel, being able to adjust their salaries and hopefully help address the recruitment and retention issues at our prisons." This budget plan doubles the line of duty death benefits, from $50,000 to $100,000. That adjustment came in part as a response to two unrelated prison attacks at facilities in Pasquotank and Bertie counties last year that killed five officers.
Broome also praised the plan for bringing up the proverbial floor, making the minimum salary $31,200 for permanent full-time state workers. Presently, the lowest salary is in the neighborhood of $24,000. There are about 81,000 state employees, a figure that does not include educators at the district level. Details on teacher raises have yet to be laid out in detail.
Among other provisions announced Thursday:
- $20 million to the University of North Carolina System for merit raises
- A one-time 1 percent supplement for retirees
- Five non-expiring bonus leave days
Lawmakers are expected to release a full $23.9 billion spending plan by Monday night and will vote on the bill later next week.