Oklahoma Senate leader: Teacher pay bill gives ‘false hope’

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OKLAHOMA CITY – A plan approved overwhelmingly in the House to raise Oklahoma teacher pay by $6,000 over the next three years appears to be facing a stiffer challenge in the state Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz said Thursday without a way to pay for the raise, the bill amounts to giving teachers “false hope.”

The House voted 92-7 this week for House Bill 1114 that calls for a $1,000 pay raise for teachers next year, $2,000 the following year and $3,000 in the third year. Each $1,000 pay raise costs about $53 million.

“As a state we have to make a commitment to pay our teachers better,” said Rogers. “This bill is the first step toward making Oklahoma one of the most competitive states in our region for teacher pay. We know there are ways to pay for this raise, and House Republicans are committed to funding this plan this session.”

But Schulz says lawmakers already are facing a budget hole of nearly $880 million and that it doesn’t make sense to incur more debt without some method of funding it.

Oklahoma’s average teacher salary of $44,921 is last in a seven-state region that includes Oklahoma and hasn’t been raised since 2008.