NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

On teacher pay, you spoke up

When I started counting all the bills filed this year that would seemingly raise teacher salaries, I never thought I'd find 23 of them. The idea, the issue of teacher pay has been pushed to the forefront of Oklahoma politics for the past several years, and the 2017 legislative session seems like the best chance in a while for something like that to happen.

A coalition of teachers and education advocates ran for state office. They didn't all win, but the discussion on the campaign trail would often turn toward teacher pay in races across the state, lawmakers have told me. That was just months after the Oklahoma Legislature adjourned once more without a teacher pay raise because of the state's dire budget situation. That's the background.

As I counted the pay raise bills, I got the idea: What do our readers think? We asked, and you answered.

According to an analysis of 1,158 responses over a period of three days last week, readers do indeed want a raise for educators. And by far, they told us the raise should be $10,000.

There are three bills that would give teachers at least a $10,000 raise, including one from state Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City. The second-most popular plan would give them an extra $5,000 per year. There are seven pieces of legislation that would do exactly that. Sixteen respondents said teachers shouldn't get a pay raise at all and of those 16, three said all state workers should get a raise.

Several of the plans introduced at the state Capitol would phase in a teacher pay raise. The proposal endorsed by House Speaker Charles McCall would bump up salaries by $1,000 in the first year, by $2,000 in the second year and by another $3,000 in the third year. We gave you that option, too. Most people wanted either a one-year or three-year schedule.

We also asked how you would pay for it. Any discussion at the Capitol about pay raises is inexorably linked to a need for a new, dedicated revenue source, primarily because of the state's continued budget shortfalls. For simplicity's sake, we gave you four options, three of which are presented in these two graphics:

In the fourth option, we gave readers the chance to give us their own ideas on how to support a teacher raise. Some were unusual. Others were more mainstream, politically speaking.

One reader suggested that a raise could be paid for with proceeds from cockfighting, a practice that Oklahoma voters banned in 2002. Fifteen people said the state should legalize recreational or medical marijuana.

More than 100 people suggested raising oil and gas production taxes. Some respondents want to cut paychecks for legislators and the governor.

Have you got a bright idea? Tell us what you'd do.

Legislators have proposed several teacher pay raise plans, but we want to hear from you. How much of a raise would you propose and how would you pay for it? Build your plan and see how much it would cost the state.

{/literal}{blk name="teacher-pay-raise"}{literal}
Related Photos
<figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure>
Dale Denwalt

Dale Denwalt has closely followed state policy and politics since his first internship as an Oklahoma Capitol reporter in 2006. He graduated from Northeastern State University in his hometown of Tahlequah. Denwalt worked as a news reporter in... Read more ›