Editorial: Gov. McCrory off the mark on teachers' tax cuts

Jul. 24, 2013 @ 05:45 PM

Gov. Pat McCrory seems to realize his and his party’s reputation among the state’s public school teachers is subterranean, but he’s not helping by making things up.

While signing the tax-cut law on Tuesday – and that’s what it is, a tax cut, not tax reform, because it doesn't much change the tax structure – he said: "This tax reform will give teachers making approximately $40,000 to $45,000 a 1 percent increase in take-home pay. That's good news for teachers."

To clarify: Teachers, like all other state employees, are not getting an actual pay raise in the budget, but McCrory claimed that the tax cuts in the separate tax law effectively amount to a 1 percent pay raise for teachers.

It would be interesting, if true. But as Mark Binker of WRAL wrote, “That doesn't seem to be borne out by either the tax or budget bills.”

First, it’s not clear how many teachers make that much: It would take most teachers 15 to 20 years to hit a rung on the salary schedule that would have them earning $40,000. The new budget also phases out extra pay for teachers who earn a master’s degree, so it will be that much harder to reach that pay level.

Second, according to tables provided with the tax plan, a married couple with two kids filing jointly will not see their tax bill cut by 1 percent unless they make at least $250,000. The size of the tax cut shrinks as you earn less; even those making $100,000 will see a cut of only 0.4 percent.

The budget also will increase teachers’ workload because it raises class sizes while cutting positions for teachers' assistants. You would think, then, that a cut of a few tenths of a percent or so in taxes then is the least the state could do for a teacher, so don't expect much gratitude.

When you truly believe your law is a good thing, you brag about its actual merits, not fictional ones.