This week Gov. Mary Fallin announced a nearly $140M budget surplus. Of course that is a lot of money, but now everyone is asking what the Governor plans to do with the funds.
Fallin has said she would like to bring the legislature back for a special session to discuss allocating the money toward teacher salary increases. Right now, Oklahoma teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation.
Republican Senator David Holt said, “We’ve got to address it. I’m disappointed the legislature didn’t but I’m excited the governor is offering us the possibility of coming back in and doing something about teacher pay.”
But teachers aren't too convinced, they still feel like State Question 779, a penny sales tax is the state's best option.
The nearly $141 million surplus came from the General Revenue Fund after cuts larger than needed were made.
Teachers say that money should be spread out.
Moroney Middle School Teacher, Lori Burris said, “I think that money needs to be put back into those agencies including schools, because schools were cut too.”
She said considering the sad state of teacher pay in the state, quality educators are moving out of state and leaving good students behind.
“We are sitting in front of the future doctors and engineers and future teachers in our classroom so that’s what we’re looking at but we shouldn’t have to be living on poverty wages either,” said Burris.
While the surplus won't completely cover $5,000 raises for each teacher in the state, Senator Holt said it's a start.
“It doesn’t get you all the way to a $5,000 raise, it gets you somewhere in between $2,750- 2,500, we need to get to $5,000. I think this is what I call a base.”
If no special session is held, the surplus will be spread evenly amongst the agencies that receive general revenue allocations.