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Legislature To Examine Teacher Pay Raise Proposals

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

In Gov. Mary Fallin's State of the State Address, she was confident lawmakers could come up with $178 million she’s appropriating from the general revenue fund to pay teachers $3,000 more a year.

As for how that money will get into that fund, Fallin suggested reviewing sales tax exemptions and the revolving funds of some agencies, along with taxing cigarettes.

If approved, her budget plan will kick off July 1 of this year.

If proposals by state Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, go as planned, he said $400 million dollars would be raised through future state revenue growth and doing away with certain tax preferences, giving teachers a $10,000 spike in salary.

He also wants the state to redraw school districts in order to reduce the number to only 200 in the state, and hopefully save more money.

OU President David Boren proposed a penny sales tax to fund teacher pay raises. If passed, Boren said it would generate about $615 million a year and put an additional $5,000 into teachers’ pockets.

If the group is able to gather the necessary signatures, the measure would be put on the November ballot.

And then there's a separate cigarette tax proposal, supported by the Oklahoma Health Commissioner. It touts $182 million in the first year, funding $2,000 raises for teachers. The cigarette tax would go up by $1.50, making the total $2.53 a pack.

It’s moving through the legislature now. And if approved, it would go to a vote.

Also, state Sen. AJ Griffin, R-Guthrie, and state Rep. Josh Cockroft, R-Tecumseh, each filed measures to provide $5,000 pay increases for teachers.

They said they're working with colleagues to find funding for those raises.

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