State lawmakers say they want to create an education endowment fund to help pay high-performing teachers more money.
A proposed bill passed by a Senate Education Committee on Wednesday suggests collecting money for the fund through individual and business donations, tax refunds and special license plates.
Originally introduced by Republican Lt. Governor Dan Forest, the proposal presents a framework for an endowment and does not lay out the criteria for how the money is used.
“It’s a creative response to tough economic times,” said Forest at an education committee meeting in May.
He said that he expects the fund to “raise billions” over the years.
“We're always looking for ways to build up and enhance education dollars and this is another vehicle - simply another vehicle - to start an endowment fund that would be just for teacher pay and incentive pay things,” said Republican Senator Jerry Tillman.
When the proposal was first introduced in May, Democratic Senator Josh Stein expressed concerns. He said the state already has an education fund – the lottery program. He also mentioned that the lottery has been mixed in with the rest of the state’s General Fund in the past.
Teacher pay is an issue that’s garnered a great deal of attention in Raleigh and a stated priority by legislators. Public school systems and education leaders say the state is losing teachers because of stagnant salaries.
House and Senate legislators have presented separate plans to raise teacher pay. Republican Senators want to give an average 11 percent raise to teachers who give up their tenure protections, otherwise known as career status. House leaders, on the other hand, are proposing an average 5 percent raise.
The Senate plan would get rid of all second and third-grade teacher assistants to pay for the raises, while the House would get help from the state’s lottery program. Republican representatives say that if they double the lottery’s advertising budget it would rake in an extra $106 million.
The proposed education endowment fund bill is expected to reach the House and Senate floors by the end of June.