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Thom Tillis to Campaign with Fellow Education Raider, Chris Christie

The Thom Tillis campaign is in freefall. For months and months, conventional wisdom had pegged North Carolina as one of Republicans’ best pickup opportunities in the Senate. But disarray in Raleigh under the House Speaker’s leadership, a disastrous budget overhaul that gutted education spending to give massive cuts to the wealthy, and a sustained disrespect toward women have left Tillis in a decisive hole.

Four separate polls came out this week showing Hagan up by an average of over 5 points, leading even a GOP pollster to say, “the race has unmistakably shifted towards Sen. Hagan in recent days.” So Tillis is calling in some help to stop the bleeding, in the form of one-time GOP presidential frontrunner Chris Christie.

Well the two should have plenty to talk about. They can talk about budget problems. They can talk about ethics questions. But most importantly, they can talk about how each of them took an axe to funding for education, hurting schools and angering constituents.

Thom Tillis has a lot to learn about putting his constituents first. Chris Christie is the least qualified person to teach him.

Background:

Tillis’ 2014 Budget Cut Education Spending By Almost $500 Million

FY 2014 State Budget Cut Education Spending By Nearly $500 Million Over The Next Two Years. According to the Black Mountain News, “The $11.5 billion portion of the state budget set aside for public schools, community colleges and the University of North Carolina system cuts education spending by nearly $260 million this year and another $222 million next year.” [Black Mountain News,7/23/13]

Raleigh News & Observer Editorial: Tillis Passed State Budget That “Shorts Public Education.” In an editorial, the Raleigh News & Observer wrote: “The tax law set the stage for a state budget approved Wednesday that shorts public education, especially teachers.” [Raleigh News & Observer, 7/24/13]

Charlotte Observer Editorial: Tillis Passed State Budget That Failed To Help Public School Teachers, And Was “Not Good For Our State, Our Workforce, Our Children, Or Our Future.” In an editorial, the Charlotte Observer wrote: “Republican Senate leader Phil Berger insisted this week that Republicans aren’t gutting public education, and lawmakers pointed to spending on technology and safety programs. But our schools are only as strong as the people who stand in front of the class, and N.C.’s budget is not only cutting educationspending overall, it’s giving the best and brightest teachers every reason to try something else – or try the same thing somewhere else. That’s not good for our state, our workforce, our children, or our future.” [Charlotte Observer, 7/23/13]

2014 Teacher Pay Plan Shorted Veteran Teachers

Teachers Who Had Been Teaching For 30 Years Would Only Receive 0.3% Raise

Teacher Pay Raises Varied Widely, And Teacher Pay Scale Changed From Salaries Increasing Every Year To Increasing Every Five Years. According to Charlotte Observer, “Under the new proposal, teachers at all experience levels will get a raise this year – though percentage increases vary widely. Instead of pay increasing each year, base salaries would normally increase every five years.” [Charlotte Observer, 8/1/14]

Teachers In 30th Year Of Teaching Would Only Receive A 0.3% Raise. According to the Charlotte Observer, “Because of the end of the longevity pay system, paychecks won’t get much larger for some longtime teachers. For example, a teacher entering his 30th year in the classroom would receive only $143 more, a 0.3 percent raise. That’s because the new cap on base salary will be $50,000 instead of continuing to increase with tenure.” [Charlotte Observer, 8/1/14]

Tillis Claim That Teacher Pay Raise Was The Biggest In History Was Not True When Measured In The Actual Percentage Of Increase

Tillis Claimed 7% Average Pay Teacher Raise In Budget Was The “Biggest Teacher Pay Raise In The State’s History.”According to WRAL, “Both Tillis and Berger took pains to credit budgets from the past two years, during which they took political fire for paring back education and other state spending, with allowing them to do what they described as ‘the biggest teacher pay raise in the state’s history.’ Teachers will get an pay raise that amounts to 7 percent on average this year.” [WRAL, 7/29/14]

  • Tillis Claim That Teacher Raises In Budget Were The Largest In State History “May Be True In The Total Dollar Amount But Not In Percentage Of Increase.”According to the Fayetteville Observer, “Tillis and Berger said they had dinner with McCrory on Sunday to go over the budget and since then they made an effort to address his concerns. Tillis and Berger said the teacherraises, expected to cost $282 million, will be the largest in state history and move North Carolina teacher pay from 46th in the nation to 32nd. That ‘largest’ description may be true in the total dollar amount but not in percentage of increase. Former Gov. Jim Hunt wrote in a column in The News & Observer newspaper in January that 1999 to 2001, teachers got 7.5 percent raises annually, at a cost of $240 million per year. During his last term, from 1997 to 2001, Hunt said, North Carolina teacher pay rose from 43rd to the top 20 nationally.” [Fayetteville Observer, 7/29/14]
Teachers Strongly Opposed Tillis’ Plan

Teachers Criticized Teacher Pay Plan Because Younger Teachers Got Bigger Raise Than Veteran Teachers. According to the Charlotte Observer, “Veteran teachers strongly criticized Thursday the teacher pay plan that’s part of the proposed North Carolina budget, saying the salaries they would receive don’t measure up to the promises made. Teachers would get an average raise of 7 percent, but youngerteachers fare far better than peers with decades of experience.” [Charlotte Observer, 8/1/14]

Teacher Groups Strongly Opposed The Raises As A “Regressive Salary Schedule.” According to the Charlotte Observer, “‘This plan picks winners and losers in the teaching profession,’ said N.C. Rep. Tricia Cotham, a Matthews Democrat and former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools administrator. ‘If you’ve been teaching longer than 25 years, it seems we’re trying to push you out.’ The North Carolina Association of Educators and other teacher lobbying groups reacted strongly to the proposal. ‘It disrespects our veteran educators, quite honestly,’ said Mark Jewell, vice president of the North Carolina Association of Educators and a Guilford County educator. ‘It’s a regressive salary schedule, we feel, and not a commitment to raising teacher pay to the national average.’” [Charlotte Observer, 8/1/14]

NCAE Said That Characterizing Cut In Longevity Pay Plus 2014 Raises As A Total Salary Increase Was Wrong. According to the News & Observer, “Senate Leader Phil Berger said on the Senate floor Thursday that he didn’t like using that much nonrecurring money foreducation spending, but he said Democrats spent far more than this budget does. ‘The additional money that has been dedicated in this budget to compensation increases is historic,’ Berger said. ‘Is it enough? No, we wanted more than that.’ The N.C. Association of Educators portrayed the longevity pay shift as a loss of a benefit and characterized the 7 percent average pay raise – amounting to an average of $3,300 a year – as a ‘fallacy.’ ‘It is wrong for the General Assembly to take the percentage represented by longevity, add it to an additional new percentage increase, and try to pass it off as a total salary increase,’ the teachers association said in a statement.” [News & Observer,7/31/14]

News & Observer: “Did Republican Lawmakers Really Think They Could Boast Of Being Champions Of Teachers After Bashing Public Education Almost Since They Took Over The General Assembly?”

News & Observer Editorial: Republicans Trying To Look Like Champions Of Teachers “After Bashing Public EducationAlmost Since They Took Over General Assembly.” According to an editorial by the News & Observer, “Did Republican lawmakers really think they could boast of being champions of teachers after bashing public education almost since they took over the General Assembly? Apparently so, because Phil Berger, president pro tem of the state Senate, has been casting himself as a friend of teachers of late.” [Editorial – News & Observer, 8/5/14]

Tillis Reached Agreement With McCrory And Berger On Comprehensive Tax Reform Bill In July 2013. According to WRAL, “Lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory struck a deal on tax reform Monday, ending a weeks-long impasse over how to rewrite a tax code that hasn’t been significantly overhauled since the 1930s. Republicans in the House and Senate signed off on the deal during closed-door caucus meetings Monday afternoon. ‘We’ve done something that no legislature has done since the Great Depression,’ House Speaker Thom Tillissaid during a news conference. ‘Everybody’s tried to take a bite of this apple, but they fell short because they lacked the courage and they lacked the commitment to getting in a room and working out their differences.’” [WRAL, 7/15/13]

Chris Christie Cut Education by $1 Billion

Politifact: “Bottom Line? Christie’s Cuts Totaled $1 Billion.” According to Politifact, “Ultimately, a judge agreed with the Education Law Center’s challenge. The judge also found that New Jersey would have needed $1.6 billion to fully fund education in New Jersey in accordance with the state’s funding law, and ordered the state to spend an additional $500 million on public education in poor districts the next year. Bottom line? Christie’s cuts totaled $1 billion.” [Politifact, 4/30/14]
PolitiFact Rated The New Jersey Education Association’s Claim That Christie Cut $1 Billion From Education As “True.” According to PolitiFact, “A recent video ad by the NJEA claims, ‘Trenton politicians cut $1.3 billion from education.’ Christie made two rounds of cuts between the time he took office in January 2010 and in the FY 2011 budget, which was ultimately approved by the state Legislature. The combined cuts totaled just under $1.3 billion. Although some aid has since been restored, the NJEA claim is correct about the amount of the cuts. We rate the claim True.” [PolitiFact, 9/8/13]