Oklahoma Lawmakers Not Hopeful For Teacher Pay Raises

Monday, April 3rd 2017, 6:09 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

Teacher pay raises seem less and less likely as state lawmakers grapple with a roughly $900-million budget shortfall and no money in the Rainy Day Fund. 

The senate education committee met Monday, and while they took care of some housekeeping issues, there was no discussion of giving teachers raises. And no confidence it will happen this year.

"No. I'm not confident. I think that we have to look to the revenue sources and again we can't drain blood out of a turnip," said Education Committee Vice Chair, Sen. Ron Sharp.

Sharp says lawmakers still haven't identified concrete ways of bridging the budget gap, let alone ways to pay for raises. He suggests raising the tax on gasoline and a one percent increase in the income tax, but admits these aren't very popular plans.

"The phone calls, the emails that I am getting right now people are saying do not raise my taxes. Absolutely," said Sharp.

Any income tax increase would require 75-percent of the legislature to back it.