Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: December 2, 2016
Sharp files $5,000 teacher pay raise bill
Sharp has filed legislation for the upcoming legislative session
to boost teacher pay. Senate Bill 8 would modify the minimum salary
schedule beginning with the 2017-2018 school year to allow for a
$5,000 increase in salary and/or benefits.
“Oklahomans made it very clear by getting State Question 779
on the ballot that they believe teachers deserve a raise. As a retired
teacher, I know and I’ve authored legislation for an increase
every year since being elected,” said Sharp. “The difficulty
the legislature is facing, however, is lack of revenue. Our economy
has struggled in recent years providing us no money for new expenses
like raises. We’ve been fighting just to keep our state agencies
afloat with the revenue shortfalls we’ve faced and next year
will be no better. We have to create new sources of revenue through
some kind of tax increase, which will be difficult with so many
Oklahomans struggling; modify tax preferences or take money from
other areas to pay for the raises.”
Tax increasing measures require a three-fourths vote by the legislature.
Sharp explained that possible new revenue sources could include
modestly increasing the general sales tax; taxing selected services,
which most state do within general sales tax; or increasing the
motor fuel tax (Oklahoma is 47th in the nation at 17 cents per gallon).
Other options could include eliminating, reducing or deferring tax
credits, exemptions and incentives but the Shawnee Republican noted
that any changes must keep Oklahoma competitive with other states
and not cause jobs to be lost. He pointed out that Indiana increasing
their tax credits this year kept major employer Carrier Heat and
Air from relocating to Mexico. The last option would be to reallocate
money from other areas of state government to fund the pay raises.
“We’re in a bind. There’s no easy solution when
our economy is so weak,” said Sharp. “It won’t
be easy and it will require bipartisan support in both chambers
but this session we must find a solution and give our teachers the
raise they deserve.”
The legislative session will begin on Monday, February 6.
For more information, contact: