OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma lawmakers will get a 35 percent pay increase.
On Tuesday, the Legislative Compensation Board voted to raise legislators’ pay for the first time since 1999.
The board consists of all new members appointed by Governor Kevin Stitt, the State Senate and the State House.
They voted to raise lawmakers’ salaries from $35,021 to $47,500.
The Oklahoma Education Association and its members flooded the halls of the Capitol last year demanding their own pay raise.
But Tuesday, they praised the board’s decision to pay lawmakers a lot more.
“Just like teachers, they are public servants, and they haven’t had a pay increase in over 20 years,” Vice President Katherine Bishop said.
One board member, Jonathan Dodson, told News 4 Tuesday that the 35 percent increase still doesn’t adjust for cost of living since the last raise.
But Oklahomans are fired up online.
A viewer named Todd said, “I wish the everyday taxpayers could get a 35 percent pay raise at a drop of a hat. This is definitely unfair to the taxpayer.”
Another viewer called the raise “stupid and ridiculous while citizens are struggling to pay bills.”
House Majority Leader Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City) and House Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D-Norman) sent News 4 the following statement Tuesday:
“Unlike Washington DC, Oklahoma has a system where legislators cannot raise their own pay, and any increase doesn’t go into effect until after the next election. However, it is the hope of both of us that this increase will help encourage more people who may have otherwise not been able to afford to run for office to do so. It is also a reminder that pay matters, and as House leaders we are committed to continue our bipartisan work of pay raises for our hard working state employees and teachers.”
“We want quality legislators that are willing to step up and serve, and what this does is attract them,” Bishop said.
Still, it’s a big change from two years ago when a board of different members voted to bring lawmakers’ pay down 8.8% to “bring it in line with similar states and similar pays throughout the region.”
The pay increase will go into effect November 2020.