Groups speak out in support, criticize plan to fund teacher pay raise
OKLAHOMA CITY –Although the Oklahoma House of Representatives has passed a revenue measure that would fund a pay raise for teachers, the deadline is still looming for the bill to be passed by the Senate and signed into law.
The plan that was approved by the House on Monday provides first-year teachers with a $5,000 pay raise and increases from there based on experience. Teachers with doctorates and 25 years of experience would receive an $8,300 pay raise.
House Bill 1010, which is a $447 million tax increase, passed 79-19 after needing 76 votes. It marks the first tax increase in Oklahoma history since 1990.
The tax increase plan includes:
- 3 cent increase on gasoline and 6 on diesel
- $5 hotel/motel tax
- $1 tobacco tax
- 5 percent GPT increase.
According to the Oklahoma Education Association, the April 2 walkout is still on.
“Our ask is still our ask,” OEA posted on Facebook. “The House is considering a number of bills tonight that could be a step in the right direction. We’re still asking for a complete package, including funding for years 2 and 3.”
While the Oklahoma Senate still has to vote on the measure, organizations are already voicing their opinions and concerns about the bill.
“We’re gratified that legislators listened to teachers’ voices and their stories about how their salaries were not a livable wage and don’t reflect the important and hard work they do every day. The House bill, which still needs Senate approval, shows a lot of progress towards valuing educators and the need to raise revenue in a responsible way to pay for the raises and more investment in education. We want to thank the supermajority of legislators who put aside partisan politics to provide a bipartisan solution for a significant teacher pay raise,” a statement by Ed Allen, president of the Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers.
The group says that it will hold a telephone town hall meeting with educators to discuss the measure.
However, not everyone is on board with the bill.
Americans for Prosperity- Oklahoma criticized lawmakers for approving the measure, which would result in a tax increase.
“The House obeyed the special interests, chose to ignore the people, and passed a huge tax package, only to find the plan doesn’t meet teachers’ unions demands and they still plan to strike,” said John Tidwell, AFP-OK State Director. “They are Charlie Brown, and Lucy just yanked the football away. No one wants to see a teacher strike, but Oklahomans also understand our state’s already-fragile financial situation cannot sustain more spending, and they don’t want to see the benefits of federal tax reform wiped out by more taxes. We hope our senators are not as tone deaf as their House counterparts.”