North Carolina became the first state to adopt a $15 minimum wage for state employees after lawmakers approved the budget on Tuesday, June 12th. As a result, 9,000 North Carolina workers will receive a raise that increases their salary to $31,200 a year. However, while employees at state agencies and the University of North Carolina System will receive an increase, the raise does not include public school, community college employees or temporary workers making less than $15 an hour. Moreover, the minimum wage doesn’t include private sector workers, where the minimum wage is $7.25. North Carolina state law prohibits local governments from increasing the minimum wage.
The wage increase comes after the Republican-controlled legislature overrode Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of a $23.9 billion budget. The State Senate then voted to override Cooper’s veto 34-13, while the North Carolina House of Representatives passed the legislation with a 73-44 vote.
Cooper said the legislation did not do enough for public school teachers or the environment9 while giving tax breaks to the wealthy.
After Republicans voted to pass the legislation, Cooper’s office released a statement:
“The broken Republican legislature has protected special interests and income tax breaks for corporations and families making over $200,000 a year instead of investing in education and the middle class. Legislative leaders rammed this budget through with no public input or the opportunity for amendment and North Carolina families should hold their representatives accountable.”
Republicans contend that Cooper’s budget would lead to financial calamity. They say the GOP budget will increase teacher’s pay by 6.5 percent, while state employees already making more than $15 an hour would receive a 2 to 8 percent raise.
The North Carolina budget begins on July 1.