Last week, the various subject matter appropriations committees (Education, Transportation, Justice and Public Safety, Agriculture and Natural & Cultural Resources, among others) reported out their portions of the budget. Over the weekend, the co-chairs of Appropriations Committee (the so-called “Big Chairs”) met to cobble together the House budget. In addition to reviewing all of the parts of the budget passed by the subject matter appropriations committees, the Big Chairs added the compensation provisions and other miscellaneous provisions, for example, those having to do with various reserves, including the so-called “Rainy Day Fund” that sets aside monies for any unexpected event, like a major hurricane, that would require monies while the legislature is not in session.
One document that came out of the weekend meetings was the actual bill [HB1030], usually called the “Special Provisions,” which provide a narrative for a wide range of state government programs. While some portion of that document is boilerplate adopted every year, the minutia of the budget is in there. For example, a provision in the bill relates to the “Grassroots Science Amendments.” That provision establishes the rules for distributing monies to science museums across the state, including Henderson County’s Hands On! children’s museum. Hands On! had concerns that under a new competitive bid process that puts emphasis on money for museums in low-wealth counties that Hands On! might lose its funding. This provision was amended in various ways, but adding a reference to grantees that “previously” received grassroots science museum grants should ensure Hands On! continues to get its monies.
The other document that came out over the weekend was the Report on the Base, Expansion and Capital Budget or the so-called “Money Report.” The document provides all of the numbers; it shows the monies proposed to be spent in Fiscal Year 2016-17 (beginning July 1, 2016). It also shows the number of employees related to the monies. What is confusing about this document is that it really only clearly shows new monies being added or subtracted. For example, the money report shows $5 million for Instructional Supplies for teachers. After the number, one has to read the “snappy” to find out that the total appropriation would be $49.5 million.
This is the first year that the “snappy” actually tells you what is being spent under each “fund code.” If there is some change in any of the fund codes, one can now easily see the total amount of money being spent in that category of spending. However, if no change is being made to the “base budget” number for spending in any category, one wouldn’t know exactly how much one is spending. For example, extra education monies are provided for low-wealth counties, but since no change is being made in that fund code, the money report doesn’t tell you how much is being spent to supplement the monies sent to school systems in poorer counties.
While lots of people are interested in the Special Provisions and the Money Report, most of the interest was on what the Big Chairs were going to do on the compensation issues related to state employees, teachers and retirees. When the various subject matter appropriations committees were given their spending targets a few weeks ago, the Big Chairs held some monies back to address compensation issues.
Here are the highlights on compensation:
State Agency, UNC, and State-funded Community College Employees
- Grants a 2% salary increase for most State and State-funded employees
- Provides a $500 NR bonus for most State and State-funded employees. The bonus is not included as part of an employee’s annual salary for retirement purposes. UNC is given the flexibility to allocate the bonus for EHRA employees.
- Grants a step for Assistant & Deputy Clerks, Magistrates, the Highway Patrol
- $16.9 m to continue implementation of custody-level pay for Correctional Officers
- $1 m to be allocated to SBI and ALE agents at the discretion of the new SBI Director
- An additional 3% salary increase for asst. district attorneys and asst. public defenders
Local School Board Employees
- Teachers & Instructional Support (Educators)
- Increase the salaries on the salary schedule by between 0% and 5%; increases for individual teachers who change tiers can exceed 15% in for certain teachers.
- Estimated new average salary: $49,896, NEA rank = 39 (Assumes no other states increased teacher salaries in FY 2015-16 or FY 2016-17 and that all local supplements increase accordingly)
- Grants a step increase for educators (affects the salary of educators changing tiers only)
- Provides a $1,000 NR bonus (included for retirement purposes) for educators on Tier 1 and Tier 6
|Monthly Salary Schedule||FY 2015-16||FY 2016-17||% Change|
|Tier 1 (0-4 yrs)||$3,500||$3,500||0%|
|Tier 2 (5-9 yrs)||$3,650||$3,800||4.1%|
|Tier 3 (10-14 yrs)||$4,000||$4,200||5.0%|
|Tier 4 (15-19 yrs)||$4,350||$4,500||3.4%|
|Tier 5 (20-24 yrs)||$4,650||$4,800||3.2%|
|Tier 6 (25+ yrs)||$5,000||$5,100||2.0%|
- School-based Administrators (SBAs) (i.e. Principals and Assistant Principals)
- Grants a step increase for SBAs
- Increases all steps on the schedule by 2% over FY 2015-16
- Provides a $500 NR bonus for SBAs not receiving a step increase. The bonus is not included as part of an employee’s annual salary for retirement purposes.
- Central Office and Noncertified personnel
- Provides a 2% salary increase and $500 NR bonus (not included for retirement purposes
- Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): Retirees in the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System, the Consolidated Judicial Retirement System, and the Legislative Retirement System receive a 1.6% COLA.
- Probation and Parole Officers (PPOs): PPOs are granted law-enforcement retirement benefits except for 401(k) contribution.
- Funding: The budget funds all State retirement systems at actuarially determined levels.
- State Health Plan: The budget releases the $71 million Reserve for Future Benefit Needs to fund 3.43% increases in State premiums paid to the Plan.
There are many topics of interest to Henderson County residents, but more about that in future updates on the budget and budget process.
The budget cleared the Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, and it just passed the full House by a vote of 103 to 12. All Republicans and a large majority of the Democrats voted for the budget — a strong bipartisan vote. The final House vote on the budget will be taken Thursday.