OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma teachers would receive a $10,000 pay raise by 2021 under a bill filed by Republican state Sen. David Holt.
The bill calls for a $1,000 raise for 2017-18, followed by $3,000 raises for each of the following three years, at an estimated cost of about $550 million, according to a statement from Holt on Thursday.
"We cannot have the future we want for our state without a solid education system, which we cannot have without great teachers, which we cannot have without competitive pay," said Holt.
The state faces a nearly $870 million budget shortfall, but Holt also introduced bills, including eliminating the sales tax exemption and a tax credit for wind energy, that he said would generate at least about $744 million to pay for the raises.
Other bills would end sales tax exemptions for state and local governments, reduce the amount of money spent on county road repairs and end sales tax exemptions on the repair, maintenance, delivery and installation of taxable goods such as oil field services, utilities, automotive services, pet grooming and carpet cleaning.
Holt also proposes that the first $200 million in any new revenue be dedicated to teacher pay raises.
Another bill would exempt teachers from the state income tax and he proposes a commission that would spend three years developing a new school district map that decreases the number of school districts from more than 500 to no more than 200, without closing any school buildings
"Next to teacher pay, the staggering number of superintendents in our state is probably the issue I hear about from constituents the most," Holt said. "And it's not just a rural issue. There are 24 school districts in the city limits of Oklahoma City."
Holt is at least the fourth lawmaker to propose a teacher pay raise, joining Republican Sens. Ron Sharp and Michael Bergrstrom, who each proposed $5,000 raises, and Republican Rep. Michael Rogers, who proposes a $6,000 raise.
State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has proposed a $3,000 raise.
Lawmakers vowed to make teacher pay a priority after voters in November resoundingly defeated a proposed 1 percent statewide sales tax to fund public education, including a $5,000 teacher pay increase.
Republican House Speaker Charles McCall has said the goal is to provide a pay raise without raising taxes.
"Any pay raise plan is going to face challenges when revenues are down, but I believe House Republicans have the political will to get this done in 2017, and I think we can find efficiencies in government spending to pay for it," McCall said.
Oklahoma has not increased its minimum teacher salary schedule since 2008, and the average annual salary including benefits is about $44,921, according to the state Department of Education, compared a regional average of about $48,450 and a national average of $58,064.
A $1,000 raise would be an increase of about 2.2 percent while a $3,000 raise would amount to about 6.6 percent.
The Legislature convenes Feb. 6.