Governor Signs Bills Giving OK Teachers Raises, Increasing Education Funding
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma - Governor Mary Fallin signed three bills into law Thursday that would give teachers and other state employees a raise.
It's the largest tax increase in Oklahoma's history.
Fallin signed three bills - one on taxes, one on the teacher pay raise and education funding, and a revenue package to make it all happen.
New teachers will get a $6,100 raise. Support staff will get a raise. And about $50 million will go toward education in Oklahoma.
The governor said Oklahoma will be second in the region for teacher pay with the bills signed.
"West Virginia had a big teacher strike, gave a five percent raise, we gave a 15-plus, and 18-plus, to our teacher in Oklahoma. So that, that is a remarkable, historic figure our state. It’s something I think we should be very proud of," Fallin said.
For perspective, West Virginia teachers start at $33,000. The minimum starting pay in Oklahoma for first-year teachers is $31,600.
While the governor and many lawmakers are applauding the bills, not everyone is happy, and it's not enough to stop Monday’s walkout from happening for a lot of districts in Green Country, including Tulsa Public Schools.
The raise also does not meet the demands of the Oklahoma Education Association, and President Alicia Priest released a statement saying:
“What yesterday looked like a positive step forward and a historic down payment on our children’s future now hangs in the balance as the legislature dismantles the funding needed to solve this crisis they created in the first place.
"Stunts like these are why Oklahomans lack any trust or confidence in the state legislature.
“The goal of Oklahoma educators has always been to avoid a walk out, because lawmakers continue breaking promises, even promises made less than 24 hours ago, we call on schools to remain closed on Monday so educators can send a clear message at the Capitol: Oklahoma educators won’t stand for these games any longer."