OKLAHOMA CITY – Following a call by Governor Kevin Stitt, lawmakers have to come up with a bill to fund another pay raise for teachers.
Last March, the Oklahoma Education Association announced that it was seeking a $10,000 pay raise for Oklahoma teachers over three years, a $5,000 pay raise for support professionals over three years, a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees, and the restoration of funding for education and core government services.
OEA announced that it was tentatively planning a teacher walkout for April 2 if legislators didn’t meet those demands.
Days before the walkout was set to begin, Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill that raises teachers’ salaries by an average of $6,100. It also gives $1,250 raises for support staff and adds $50 million in education funding.
Although the bill almost reached the salary goal, organizers said it did little to restore education funding that has been cut for nearly a decade.
For nine days, thousands of educators and supporters headed to the Capitol to demand an increase to education funding. The walkout came to a sudden end at the end of two weeks.
Now, an Oklahoma lawmaker hopes to build on the measures that were passed last session.
House Bill 1780, authored by House Speaker Charles McCall, would provide a $1,200 across the board pay raise for public school teachers.
“I have said many times that the pay raise last year was a good first step, but my goal is to get our teachers to number one in the region in pay,” said Speaker McCall, R-Atoka. “This bill helps us get closer to that goal. House Republicans have made a commitment to our teachers and we are going to follow through. Better pay not only shows our teachers that they are valued, but it also helps us recruit and attract new teachers to the profession and retain the experienced teachers we already have.”
During Gov. Kevin Stitt’s State of the State address, he encouraged lawmakers to come up with a way to fund a $1,200 pay raise for educators. If that happens, Stitt says Oklahoma teachers will be in the number one spot for the region regarding pay and benefits.
House Bill 1780 passed out of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee with a 26-0 vote on Wednesday.
“It is a two-step approach to ensuring our teachers are paid better and then getting them the resources they need to teach our children,” said House Common Education Committee Chairwoman Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon. “Our students need additional dollars dedicated to the classroom for textbooks and better technology. House Republicans have several bills coming down the road to help us get that done this session.”
The measure now heads to the House floor for consideration.