GOP legislators push for a $5k teacher pay increase

Over 20 members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, representing all four quadrants of the state, are supporting a $5,000 pay raise for all classroom public school teachers statewide while protecting Oklahomans – including teachers – from tax increases.

The estimated cost to give the 42,027 classroom teachers in Oklahoma a $5,000 raise would be $245 million. The House members want the $5,000 pay raise to take effect this August.

The  group of House members are strongly opposed to the statewide ballot measure proposed by University of Oklahoma President David Boren that raises the sales tax by one cent on all Oklahomans. That ballot measure, if passed, wouldn’t take effect until school year 2017-18, which is 18 months away.

Additionally, estimates suggest the Boren tax plan would increase tax collections over $600 million, with 20 percent going into higher education.

State government is facing a major budget shortfall, in large part because of falling oil prices, but Oklahoma families are facing budget shortfalls. Over 20,000 Oklahomans have lost their jobs directly because of forced reductions in the state’s energy sector.

“The people in every area of state government, us included, have to make hard decisions and prioritize the dollars available just as thousands of Oklahoma families are being forced to tighten their belts,” the group said in a press release.

The group did, however, emphasize that core services – including Medicaid and common education – can be fully funded while also providing a $5,000 pay raise for all classroom teachers while also avoiding tax increases on families. “This requires extraordinary fiscal discipline, but we can do it,” the group said.

The group of 24 members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives were: Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha; Rep. David Brumbaugh, R-Broken Arrow; Rep. Kevin Calvey,  R-Oklahoma City; Rep. Bobby Cleveland,  R-Slaughterville; Rep. Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette; Rep. Jeff Coody, R-Grandfield; Rep. David Derby, R-Owasso; Rep. Dan Fisher,  R-El Reno; Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond; Rep. Elise Hall, R-Oklahoma City; Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee; Rep. John Paul Jordan, R-Yukon; Rep. James Leewright, R-Bristow; Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City; Rep. Lewis Moore, R-Arcadia; Rep. Tom Newell, R-Seminole; Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa; Rep. Scooter Park, R-Devol; Rep. John Pfeiffer, R-Orlando; Rep. Michael Rogers, R-Broken Arrow; Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow; Rep. Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher; Rep. Chuck Strohm, R-Jenks; and Rep. Ken Walker, R-Tulsa.