OKLAHOMA CITY - Still have questions about what the teacher pay raise is, who it impacts and how it's being paid for can be confusing, just as tracking what happens at the state capitol on a day-to-day basis. To give you the nuts and bolts, here are four things you should know about the teacher pay raise and what it means for the state.
Question Number 1: Are teachers actually getting a pay raise?
Yes, they are. Governor Mary Fallin signed the teacher pay scale plan into law Thursday, along with the tax increases to pay for them.
"This is a very historic moment in Oklahoma's time," said Fallin at the bill signing Thursday. "We achieved something that we all thought might be impossible."
The majority of the money to pay for the raises comes from a $447 million revenue package that raises taxes on motor fuel, tobacco and the tax on oil and gas production. It also includes a tax on hotel and motel lodging, however that will likely be repealed.
Fallin also signed legislation capping itemized deductions that will bring in additional revenue.
Question Number 2: What's the pay raise?
It's the largest teacher pay increase in Oklahoma history. Teachers will see an average $6,100 increase, higher or lower depending on a teacher's years of experience and education levels.
However, some teachers aren't completely settled on what the pay raise and funding bills mean for them. Tens of thousands of teachers and supporters are expected to descend on the state capitol on Monday for the teacher walkout.
Question Number 3: Where do Oklahoma teachers rank, nationally?
Based on the available data from the National Education Association, Oklahoma ranked 49th in the country in average teacher pay in 2016, with a little more than $45,200 a year. In the seven state region, Oklahoma ranked last in pay with Texas, $51,890, and Arkansas, $48,218, nabbing the top two spots.
However, if averages stay the same, the $6,100 pay raise could bump Oklahoma teachers up to $51,276, second in the region only to Texas, and 28th in the country.
Question Number 4: What about school support staff?
A $1,250 pay raise for school support personnel passed the House and Senate earlier this week and the legislation is currently awaiting the governor's signature.