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Local & Regional

Pay Raise for Oklahoma Teachers Unlikely This Year

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Of the myriad issues facing Oklahoma lawmakers this year, one is probably at the top of everyone’s mind: teacher raises.

"We are very interested and compelled to give teachers a pay raise that they have earned, they have deserved. And we'll see that in this upcoming session, I'm sure," Sen. Gary Stanislawski said four months ago on election night.

At a December forum with legislators, Rep. Michael Rogers said they’d been dissecting the issue to figure out how raises would be structured and how much it would cost.

"I think you'll see it this session, because there's a will to do it," Rogers said.

State Treasurer Ken Miller outlined at the state equalization board meeting in December what lawmakers would need to do.

"We need a recurring revenue stream for a recurring teacher pay raise," Miller said.

But Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz now says the $878 million budget hole Oklahoma is in for fiscal year 2018 is proving to be too much of an obstacle.

"I don't think there's any one silver, magic bullet out there that fills our budget gap as well as provides a pay raise for teachers this year," Schulz said.

Though there’s been a flurry of teacher pay proposals from lawmakers, they’ve been light on funding ideas.

"But I certainly still feel very positive that we will leave this session with a framework in place that does give a teacher pay raise to be implemented in the years to come," Schulz said.

One estimate says every $1,000 raise for Oklahoma's teachers would cost $53 million dollars.