The budget battle continues at the state Capitol with the main sticking point being teacher pay raises.
The House of Representatives wants across the board $1,200 for teachers, plus $70 million more for classroom spending.
The Senate wants $1,200 raises to go only to the lowest paid teachers, and the upwards of $100 million to go to districts to decide how they want to spend it; either on raises or classroom supplies or a combination of the two.
“When you give an across the board pay raise the money is absolutely obligated. It doesn’t give any flexibility to the local school board to make the decisions,” said Senator Greg Treat (R) President Pro Tempore.
Representative Charles McCall (R) House Speaker said, “We have to listen to the people of the state of Oklahoma. When you have 70 percent of the people in the state of Oklahoma saying, ‘hey, we want to make sure that teachers are taken care of and they need an additional pay raise,’ then you need to earmark a certain amount of those dollars for that pay raise.”
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Speaker McCall is referring to a recent poll that showed 72 percent of respondents were in favor of all teachers getting a raise.
“Students are still getting notes home from their teachers, saying can you please send up paper, ink. They’re in desperate need of reading specialists and mental health professionals. And the formula helps to that end,” said Treat.
Both sides have their heels dug in pretty deep.
“At the end of the day, the House’s position is that we believe the $1,200 teacher pay raise needs to happen and it needs to be paid to all teachers in the state of Oklahoma,” said McCall.
The governor is siding with the House of Representatives on this one in giving all teachers a raise.