North Carolina Senate Republicans held a press conference Wednesday morning to announce a pay-raise plan for teachers, which they’re touting as the most significant in the state’s history.

Photo courtesy of the North Carolina General Assembly

Photo courtesy of the North Carolina General Assembly

“To attract and keep the best educators in the classroom, the Senate budget will contain an average pay increase for our teachers of over 11 percent,” said Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. “And that will be a permanent pay raise for North Carolina public school teachers, beginning July 1, 2014.”

According to Berger, the proposed annual-contract plan would replace what he called the “archaic 37-step plan” for teacher raises.

Senate Republicans are saying that the average pay for each teacher would increase by over 11 percent – more than $5,800 in the first year.

But the plan also gives teachers a choice: They can either keep their tenure, or receive those raises.

“Under our plan, teachers who agree to work on annual contracts for the 2014-15 school year would move to the new pay scale, and receive the substantial salary increase,” said Berger. “Those who choose to keep tenure would remain on the current pay scale.”

According to Berger, the new stipulations would repeal an automatic loss of tenure voted into law last summer by the Republican-led General Assembly.

During the Wednesday press conference, Berger did not provide details on how the proposed $468 million plan would be paid for.

That doesn’t sit well with Democratic House Representative Graig Meyer, who represents Orange and Durham Counties.

“The rumors that we’re hearing are that there’s going to be massive cuts to Medicaid and the university system, to be able to do that” said Meyer. “As somebody who spent 16 years working in the public schools, I would have a hard time justifying giving a pay raise to teachers when kids won’t be able to access medical care.”

Meyer also criticized the proposed choice between tenure and a pay raise as “a Faustian bargain.”