Oklahoma Officials Look For Ways To Increase Teacher Salaries
With the failure of State Question 779 this past election, State Legislators are now looking for new ways to raise the pay of teachers across the state. Oklahoma currently ranks last in the country in average pay rate for its teachers, and 779 was slated to increase the pay rate $5,000 per year, per teacher. But voters balked at the proposed 1% sales tax increase which would have funded the pay increases.
Now some state legislators have revived the $5,000 increase, this time proposing to fund it with an increase in the state's sales tax rate for those who make more than 100-thousand dollars per year.
State Representative John Michael Montgomery, whose District 62 includes the Lawton area, says teacher's pay is very important, but the key is getting enough legislators to agree on one proposal. While education is a top priority, several lawmakers are proposing ideas to generate the revenue to fund pay increases. Montgomery also says that legislators are looking for sources of income to fund the pay increases that will be stable and build over time.
State educators are looking to stem the current tide of teachers leaving the state to take better paying positions in neighboring states. Many educators with more than 10 years experience have left the state in recent years to take better paying positions in Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, and even states as far away as Nevada and Arizona. Montgomery says several representatives have already started meeting to create a bill they believe will work best for teachers. Oklahoma's 2017 legislative session will begin February 6th.