Some Lawmakers Believe Hope For Teacher Pay Raises Fading Fast

Thursday, March 2nd 2017, 6:34 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

When the legislative session began just four weeks ago, lawmakers agreed on one thing: giving teachers a raise is a priority. Now, don’t count on it.

Lawmakers still agree teachers in Oklahoma need raises. Whether it will happen this year depends on who you ask.

Leadership in the Senate doesn’t seem to think so.

“I don’t think there’s any one silver magic bullet out there that fills our budget gap as well as provides a pay raise for teachers this year,” said Senator Mike Schulz President Pro Tempore.

Senator Schulz said he expects the legislature to lay the foundation for raises; but a foundation for a raise is not a raise.

“I think it’ a high hurdle to get over to think that we’re going to come out of this session with dollars going into their paycheck,” said Schulz.

Representative Scott Inman (D) House Minority Leader reacted by saying, “I appreciate the rare bit of honesty and candor coming from the House majority caucus. Because just two weeks ago, as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, we were told by the Chair of Appropriations as well as the author of the teacher pay raise bill, they absolutely believe we could do a $1,000 or $2,000 pay raise for teachers.”

Lawmakers would have to come up with another $53-mllion for every thousand dollars they raise teachers’ pay. That’s on top of bridging the budget gap.

House Republican leadership believes that’s doable.

“Under our plan, it would be a $1,000 teacher raise in the first year and that would begin in the next school year,” said House Speaker Representative Charles McCall (R).

But Inman doubts that will happen. “What they’re doing is being disingenuous with the educators in this state by promising them false hope,” he said.