Teacher Pay Raise Bill Clears Another Hurdle

Wednesday, April 5th 2017, 6:09 pm

A bill to give teachers raises passed another hurdle without a clear way to pay for it.  

The bill is called the "1, 2, 3 plan." It would give teachers a $1,000 raise this year; a $2,000 raise next year and a $3,000 raise the following year for a total of $6,000.  

The House of Representatives passed the bill back in February, hoping the Senate would come up with some funding ideas.

Wednesday, the Senate education committee passed it, hoping leadership would come up with funding ideas.

“We want to remain optimistic,” said Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-District 9. “I know there’s a lot of things being discussed with the leadership behind closed doors with the governor, the House and the Senate.”

Pemberton was a school principal for 26 years before becoming a politician. He said he’s confident funding will be found.

“The House Bill we passed is for more of a pay raise than the state Senate did so I wouldn’t see them pushing something through that they can’t find a way to fund,” he said.

Sen. Ron Sharp, R-District 17, also a former teacher, voted for the measure but has some concerns; not just about funding teachers raises, but the additional costs that come with the raises.

“They’re paying social security. They’re paying healthcare. They’re paying pensions. So, we need to have a serious discussion on how this is all going to be paid for, because I don’t want to be passing on a thousand dollar pay to a teacher and then the district is bankrupt,” Sharp said.

Sharp admits voting yes on a measure that isn’t funded is dangerous.

“It is a risk. Because again we’re giving the people a false sense of security that we’re going to take care of this situation and I’m not sure if we are or not until they come up with revenue enhancements,” he said.  

When asked why he voted for the measure, Sharp responded,  “Well I voted for it because again we have to start somewhere. If I voted no then that’s the end of the process.”

The bill now goes to the full Senate, but the governor is not expected to sign it into law unless the legislature can come up with a way to fund the raises.