OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Fifteen years after Oklahoma voters created an endowed trust for programs that discourage tobacco use and promote healthy lifestyles, a state lawmaker wants to use the fund for pay raises for teachers.
Republican state Sen. Bryce Marlatt of Woodward has proposed a constitutional amendment to let Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust funds be used to boost teacher salaries. Oklahoma teachers have not had a raise since 2008 and are among the lowest paid in the nation with an average starting salary of about $31,000.
Marlatt says that with a fund balance of just under $1 billion, the tobacco endowment can finance a pay raise without sacrificing its original goal. But opponents say using a one-time funding source to pay for recurring teacher salaries will not work.