Lt. Gov. Forest provides teacher pay counterpoint in letter

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has offered a counterpoint to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's recent written explanation to North Carolina public school teachers as to why sizable pay raises haven't happened this year.

Forest, a Republican seeking to unseat Cooper in 2020, sent by email a letter to all North Carolina teachers late last week, spokesman Jamey Falkenberry said. It's dated one day after a letter from Cooper that the governor's office asked principals to forward to teachers and staff.

Cooper focused on the failure of negotiations with Republican legislators to consider his proposal that would raise average teacher pay by more than twice what the GOP state budget offered. Cooper vetoed that budget. He urged teachers to ask legislators to come to the negotiating table.

Forest, a member of the State Board of Education, wrote that the General Assembly — controlled by Republicans — has raised teacher pay and K-12 education several years in a row but that Cooper is the one who is blocking increases this year with his veto. He blamed Democrats for large shortfalls during the last recession that led to teacher furloughs and frozen pay.

Forest said it was a “disservice” to educators if “you didn't have all those facts.”

“Please know that we will continue to fight for increased teacher compensation and overall public education spending," Forest wrote. “We will continue to do so in a balanced approach that ensures government is not overspending, and we are prepared for any downturns in the economy.”

Falkenberry said Forest has had a teacher email list for a while and wasn’t planning to use the addresses until Cooper wrote his own letter.