CHAPEL HILL -Almost 80 percent of voters support former Governor Jim Hunt’s proposal to raise teacher pay in North Carolina to the national average over the next fours years, according to a new poll.

Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling in Raleigh says that support for Hunt’s proposal is driven by a strong belief that teachers in the state are underpaid.

“What is really remarkable about the numbers in this period where our state is so polarized is that there is really strong agreement about that goal across party lines,” Jensen says.

The poll found that 88 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents, and 66 percent of Republicans support Hunt’s proposal.

North Carolina’s teachers are among the lowest paid in the country, raking 46th. The beginning salary for a teacher with less than six years of experience is $30,800 for the 2013-2014 school year, according to the NC Department of Public Instruction.

North Carolina teachers have gone six years without a real pay raise.

“Only 3 percent of voters think that they [teachers] are overpaid,” Jensen adds.

Eighty-three percent of voters polled are concerned that North Carolina teachers are choosing other professions or moving to teach in other states because of the in-state salaries.

Stagnant salaries are just one of the many issues that educators have said threaten the education system in North Carolina. State lawmakers eliminated salary bonuses for teachers with advanced degrees and also nixed teacher tenure.

Governor Pat McCrory said in December of last year that he wanted to roll out a North Carolina public school teacher pay proposal early in 2014 but didn’t get into the specifics of the plan.