Tax exemption for teachers sought

Jun. 18, 2013 @ 06:33 PM

State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson asked that the state legislature exempt public school teachers from state income taxes as a way to increase salary and competitiveness Monday. 

The request will not move forward in the legislature.

“Those supporting a cut in corporate income taxes say that the reduction will attract more corporations and then we will have more jobs for North Carolinians. The General Assembly proposed budgets do not include salary increases for teachers, but corporations expanding or locating in North Carolina certainly need workers who are educated — the work of teachers,” Atkinson said in a statement.

The average teacher compensation in North Carolina ranks 46th in the nation according to the National Association of Educators. 

Rep. Craig Horn, R-68, is the chairman of the appropriations subcommittee on education. He heard about the proposal Tuesday morning and felt that he did not have enough information to respond. 

Horn said they are very concerned about attracting new teachers to the state and retaining current teachers. 

“It’s the 10,000-pound gorilla in the room when we come to education is how do we attract and retain quality teachers,” Horn said. “The challenge every day continues to be ... where do we get the money.”

He said he did not know of anyone in the legislature who did not want to pay teachers more. 

“Given the current economic environment ... we obviously haven’t figured that out,” Horn said. “If we had we’d be doing it.”

Horn said he is hopeful that state revenues will continue to increase or that tax reform can increase revenues without hurting the poorest in the state. 

When asked about eliminating additional payment teachers receive for attaining a master’s degree, Horn said they will not be taking that payment away from teachers who already receive it or who are close to receiving it. 

“The biggest problem we have as the people who are required to hold others accountable is that we’ve had absolutely no data to show that advanced degrees improve teaching outcomes,” Horn said. 

Horn said he is trying to figure out what he can do to help attract and retain teachers in the state. He added that he does not have a simple answer.