As Oklahoma lawmakers look to increase teacher pay, the Senate’s plan differs from the plan Governor Stitt favors

As Oklahoma lawmakers look to increase teacher pay, the Senate’s plan differs from the plan Governor

LAWTON, OK (TNN) - Senate leaders say they found a way to allocate 200 million dollars into the state’s budget geared directly towards education.

That would include around 70 million for teacher raises and 130 million for new classroom funding.

Representative Toni Hasenbeck said this will help the state now, but could cause problems in years to come.

While Representative Hasenbeck says she’s happy education has become a priority, she said the Senate’s plan isn’t exactly supporting what the House and Governor want.

She said “It’s not really an agreement with what the House and the Governor are agreed upon, and that is a 1200 dollar raise across the board for all educators.”

Hasenbeck said the Senate’s plan would add money to the education formula, but it wouldn’t guarantee teachers would receive a pay raise.

“The senate plan is just money into the formula, so each individual school would have the decision, do they give teachers a pay raise, do they want to hire more teachers, or anything they can think of with that money,” said Rep. Hasenbeck

If the Senate’s plan passes, 200 million becomes the new baseline, and Rep. Hasenbeck said that might lead to disappointment down the line.

“If we don’t add more than 200 million than we added this year, then we’ve cut education," said Rep. Hasenbeck.

Hasenbeck said the Senate’s plan will also leave out a large portion of educators.

“It’s not going to go to the teachers at the Department of Justice, the teachers at career techs, or the teachers at the Oklahoma School for the Deaf,” said Rep. Hasenbeck.

Cache superintendent Chad Hance said if the Senate’s plan is the choice, his school would benefit because of their growth, meaning they would receive a bigger piece of the budget pie.

“If it’s what they are saying, we get a pretty good increase in state aid funding that would help our budget, and we would try to cut down on our class sizes," said Hance.

Hance said either way, his school will surely benefit from the extra funding. They would be able to either increase teacher pay, or use the money they receive to hire more teachers for the classroom.

“It doesn’t matter how they give it to us, whether it’s through the formula, a line item, or through teacher pay raises, as long as they are putting money towards public education, I’m happy. And now I think it’s our responsibility to be good stewards of that money and make good decision to help our kids in the classroom," said Hance.

Lawmakers have until May 31st to finalize the budget, but Governor Stitt said the completed budget will emerge any day now.

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