Budget plan would give teachers raises, cap film incentive


RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) — A budget plan unveiled by Republican leaders in Raleigh today would mean more money to teachers and less money for Hollywood.

House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger announced the $21.25 billion budget plan during a news conference Tuesday.

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Their plan gives teachers an average seven-percent raise, preserves teacher assistant positions and makes a one-percent cut to the Medicaid reimbursement rate for health care providers.

It also allots $10 million for a film incentive grant program. That’s considerably less than the current film incentive program that has no overall budget cap.

“We are disappointed by the $10 million grant set aside for film in the proposed state budget,” EUE/Screen Gems Executive Vice President Bill Vassar said in a statement. “The legislative session is likely to last another 72 hours. Rep. Ted Davis and other members of the House are working diligently to find additional funding that will keep the North Carolina film industry alive. In the waning moments of the past legislative sessions, film has been recognized as an important economic engine to the North Carolina economy. We are hopeful for similar results in this session before the end of this week.”

Local folks, who work in the film industry, feel Republicans in the state legislature are missing out on the residual impacts film has not only in the Port City, but across the state.

“That’s the stuff that they don’t get a handle on,” said Ed Wagonseller, a local actor and film teacher. “We have people coming over from Europe to come tour the studios and see the place where ‘One Tree Hill’ was filmed. Where’s that on the ledger sheets? It doesn’t exist.”

Republican budget writers say the spending proposal maintains funding for the university system and reforms the pay structure for teachers. It also increases pay for Highway Patrol troopers. Most state workers will get a $1,000 raise a five bonus vacation days.

Gov. Pat McCrory has previously said he would veto a budget with a teacher raise over seven percent. Berger said McCrory still has some concerns but has been updated as the plan has taken shape.

“I think some of the concern was if we got to seven percent, how could we do it and could we convince him that the mechanics are in place?” Tillis said of discussions with the governor over the weekend. “I think that we can.”

The budget draft is set to be released either tonight or tomorrow with votes in the Senate and House by the end of the week.

Democratic House leader Rep. Larry Hall told WTVD in Raleigh that he and other lawmakers feel shut out of this budget process and that they have not seen the package. He says he’s eager to see the proposal Republican leaders drafted and whether it will be sustainable.

(Information from the Associated Press and WTVD was used in this story)