Oklahoma House passes bill to hike teacher pay $6,000

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives overwhelmingly advanced a plan to the Senate last week that would phase in a $6,000 teacher pay raise over three years and boost Oklahoma teachers to some of the highest paid in the region.

House Bill 1114, by state Rep. Michael Rogers, chair of the House Common Education Committee, would include a $1,000 pay raise for teachers during the 2017-18 school year, another $2,000 raise during the 2018-19 school year and a final $3,000 raise during the 2019-20 school year.

Rogers said the phased-in approach would allow the Legislature to manage the current revenue downturn while keeping its promise to boost pay for teachers. Every $1,000 increase in teacher pay would cost approximately $53 million, said Rogers.

“As a state we have to make a commitment to pay our teachers better,” said Rogers, R-Broken Arrow. “This bill is the first step toward making Oklahoma one of the most competitive states in our region for teacher pay. We know there are ways to pay for this raise, and House Republicans are committed to funding this plan this session.”

Oklahoma already has the third-highest statutory starting minimum teacher pay in the region. Rogers’ plan would raise Oklahoma teacher pay from 48th in the nation to 27th based on recent data from the National Education Association (NEA). When paired with the state’s low cost of living, the plan would move Oklahoma to 13th in the nation for average annual teacher pay at $56,804 (adjusted for cost of living). Oklahoma’s cost of living ranks behind only Mississippi for the lowest in the nation.

House Speaker Charles A. McCall supports Rep. Rogers’ plan.

“The House completed our part and sent a bipartisan and realistic teacher pay plan to the Senate for their consideration,” said Speaker McCall, R-Atoka. “Oklahomans want teacher pay addressed this session, and they want it addressed without raising taxes. That was the message they sent us in November when State Question 779 failed.

“This bill is the most reasonable way for us to address teacher pay this year without raising taxes on our citizens.”

House Bill 1114 passed out of the House by a vote of 92-7 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.