State House Of Representatives Pass Bill For Teacher Pay Raises

Tuesday, March 7th 2017, 6:32 pm

The state House Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would give teachers pay raises over the next three years, but with no way to fund the raises and no guarantee that the raises will remain in place after this year.  

Republican lawmakers laid out what they’re calling a “1, 2, 3 plan” -- a plan to raise teachers base pay by $1,000 this year $2,000 next year and $3,000 the third year for a total raise of $6,000.  

It will cost the state about $53 million to raise teachers’ salaries by $1,000.  

When pressed by Democrats, Republicans couldn’t come up with a way to pay for the raises.

“There’s not been an area that you specifically can say this is where we can find the $53 million,” said Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-District 72.

“Can you kind of rank some of the revenue stream ideas from favorite to least favorite, from happy emoji to sad emoji as far as what you want?” Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-District 92, asked.  

“We can’t answer all the questions today, but what we can answer today is a resounding message to our educators that we appreciate what they do,” Rep. Earl Sears, R-District 11, said.

Democrats offered their own plan; an increase in the gross production tax on oil and natural gas, and an income tax increase on the wealthy.

“Our question is this,” Rep. Scott Inman, House Minority Leader, said. “Do you accept that offer as a way to legitimately fund not only a state pay raise for teachers and state employees but also to help fund education?”

“We felt that we put together the best plan that was available as to move this bill forward.  Not just something that’s just pixie dust and fairy tales,” Rep. Michael Rogers, R-District 98, said.

“I just told you what we want you to support," Inman said. “Gross production and income, right? You said you won’t do that. So we need to know, teachers need to know, What are you asking us to support?”

In the end, the bill passed 92 to 7 with some of the Democrats who argued against it voting for it. The bill now goes to the state Senate.