• Lawmakers propose solutions to low teacher wages in Oklahoma

    By: Ashli Lincoln

    Updated:

    Story Highlights

    • Lawmakers say they are working to pass bills that will raise teachers' wages in Oklahoma.
    • One plan would draw the money from the Commissioners of Land Office.
    • Another would increase various taxes.

    OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Lawmakers in Oklahoma say they are working on a plan to raise teacher wages across the Sooner State.

    Representative Bobby Cleveland (R-District 20) said Wednesday that House Bill 3440 would raise the funding without raising taxes.

    The bill, written by Tom Gann (R-District 8) would take $280 million from the $2.4 billion in the Commissioners of Land Office account to give teachers a $5,000 pay raise.

    The money would be exempt from the school funding formula, meaning the money could only be allowed to be used for teacher pay raises.

    It passed a house committee on February 26, and the entire House of Representatives will hear the bill next week.

    Representative Regina Goodwin (D-Tulsa) said another plan would raise taxes on various items to fund the raises.

    The plan, offered by State Auditor Gary Jones, would raise the gross production tax on all wells in the state to 5 percent, add a .75 percent cigarette tax, a 3 cent gas tax, a six cent diesel tax at the pump and a $17,500 itemized deduction cap.

    Both plans would raise teachers' salaries by $5,000.

    The legislation comes as educators threaten to "shut down" schools across the state over low pay and education cuts.

    House speaker Charles McCall shared this statement:

    “House Republicans understand and share the frustration that our public school teachers are experiencing, and we remain committed to finding a way to increase teacher pay this session. Over the past 14 months House Republicans have passed numerous teacher pay raise bills, including the ‘1-2-3 Plan’ that would have provided a phased-in, $6,000 pay raise for teachers, and we funded the first phase of that plan in our budget last May. Last month, seventy-five percent of House Republicans voted in support of a $5,000 teacher pay raise in the ‘Step Up Coalition Plan,’ yet two-thirds of the House Democratic Caucus failed to support that pay raise.

     

    “Time and again, a large majority of our caucus has supported every revenue raising option to provide for a teacher pay raise – without much help from House Democrats.  It is clear that House Democrats have no intention of helping House Republicans provide a pay raise for our teachers, and that we must use funding measures that do not require Democratic support to pass. 

     

    “There are currently multiple options available to help provide a pay raise without requiring 76 votes and help from House Democrats, including House Bill 2403, which would provide $106 million and is awaiting a hearing in the Senate. Today, we passed a bill off the House floor that would provide an additional $22 million in revenue, and there are other ideas being discussed that could potentially help us fully fund a substantive pay raise for teachers this session.

     

    “There will be ongoing discussions in the coming weeks on how we can find even more revenue to help our teachers.  The Republican Caucus is the only caucus in the House that has supported raising revenue for education, teacher pay and healthcare during the last 14 months. At some point, the House Democrats’ votes have to match their rhetoric.”


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