Oklahoma Senate Panel OKs Teacher Pay Bill; Funds Uncertain

Apr 12, 2017

A teacher pay raise bill is one step closer to hitting the Governor's desk, after Lawmakers passed it out of its final Senate Committee on Wednesday.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations voted 39-3 for House Bill 1114.

The measure calls for a $1,000 teacher pay raise next year, $2,000 the following year and $3,000 in the third year. A $1,000 raise would cost about $53 million a year.

Senator J.J. Dossett (D-Owasso), a former teacher, voted against the bill because lawmakers still don't have a way to pay for it, and he says he doesn't want to give teachers a false hope.

"I don’t know that it’s a genuine proposal. I’m not sure the people in this building are willing to pay for a teacher pay raise."

The bill's Senate author, Republican Sen. Jason Smalley (R-Stroud), says there's strong support for raising teacher salaries this year and that work is underway to find a funding source.

Oklahoma's average teacher salary of $44,921 is last in a seven-state region that includes Oklahoma and hasn't been raised since 2008.

Any revenue raising measure will require three-quarters of the legislature to approve it.

The bill now goes to the full Senate floor.