Gov. Cooper’s New Budget: Strong, Ready, Resilient

On March 24, 2021, Gov. Cooper unveiled his proposed state budget for the two-year period that starts in July (2021-2023). Gov. Cooper’s budget helps students catch up with significant investments in schools and increased pay for our teachers, strengthens health care access during this critical period when more people need coverage than ever, and expands economic opportunities and rebuilds infrastructure to bring good jobs to North Carolina.

Together, his budget recommendations comprise a transformative and far-reaching package to help our state build back stronger and more resilient after the pandemic.


  • TEACHER RAISES & BONUSES: Governor Cooper’s budget will provide K-12 teachers 10% raises on average over the biennium, ensure all non-certified school personnel receive a minimum of $15/hour, and give teachers, principals and all public school personnel $4,000 in bonuses over the next two years.
  • MEDICAID EXPANSION: This budget will expand Medicaid to provide access to health care for more than 600,000 working North Carolinians, keeping rural hospitals open and strong, reducing the number of uninsured veterans, helping fight the opioid epidemic, and injecting over $5 billion in direct investment into the state by expanding Medicaid.
  • TAX CREDITS: This budget will reinstate the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to help more than 850,000 North Carolina families, nearly all of whom earn less than $50,000 a year. This budget will also establish a Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) to help about 195,000 North Carolina families with out-of-pocket childcare expenses.
  • The Governor’s budget offers a blueprint to leverage state and federal funds for a generational investment to help grow our economy, strengthen our communities and create opportunity for all North Carolinians.

The challenges of the last year were shared by everyone and now we should work toward a recovery that can be shared by everyone, too.


  • $4,000 BONUSES FOR TEACHERS: This budget would provide $2000 bonuses to K-12 teachers this year and $1000 bonus each of the next two years.
  • 10% RAISES FOR TEACHERS: This budget provides K-12 teachers 10% raises over the next two years.
  • GUARANTEES $15 MINIMUM WAGE FOR ALL SCHOOL PERSONNEL: This budget ensures that all non-certified school personnel, like teaching assistants, school nutrition employees, and bus drivers, receive a minimum of $15 an hour, on par with other state employees.
  • $1.5 BILLION FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS: This budget makes long overdue investments to demonstrate the State’s commitment to upholding its constitutional duty to provide every student with access to a sound, basic education.
  • INVESTMENTS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: The budget invests more than $78 million in early education and child development so that more children can attend Pre-K, receive high-quality care, and access early intervention services.
  • HEALTH CARE TO MORE THAN 600K NORTH CAROLINIANS: This budget would provide access to health care for more than 600,000 working North Carolinians by expanding Medicaid, an issue more made more attractive by the $1.7 billion investment laid out in the American Rescue Plan. It would also help keep rural hospitals open and strong, reduce the number of uninsured veterans, help fight the opioid epidemic, and inject over $5 billion in direct investment into the state.
  • TAX CREDITS TO LIFT FAMILIES OUT OF POVERTY: This budget reinstates the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is one of the best mechanisms we have to lift working people out of poverty.  The budget also recommends a state-level child care tax credit that would help working families pay for daycare and afterschool fees.
  • $4.7 BILLION BOND FOR INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS: This budget recommends placing a $4.7 billion General Obligation Bond on the November 2021 ballot to ask voters to address key infrastructure needs across North Carolina, including public schools, universities, community colleges, parks, zoos, museums, and more.
  • ECONOMIC RELIEF FOR SMALL BUSINESSES: This budget would provide more than $45 million in economic investments, including support for small businesses. The funding would also address the disproportionate economic impact of COVID-19 on communities of color through increased support for minority-owned businesses.
  • DOUBLES THE RAINY DAY FUND: This budget will double the rainy day fund to ensure funding is available for weather related crisis recovery like hurricanes and tornadoes.
  • MORE THAN $400 MILLION FOR CLEAN ENERGY, WATER, AND AIR: This budget will invest heavily to conserve our natural resources, expand parks and trails, advance clean energy implementation and economic development, and protect our water and air.

The Governor’s recommendations now go to the legislature, where both the House and the Senate will negotiate a deal. We need to make sure that our reps and leaders in the NCGA  know where we stand and what we’re fighting for.