Holt Proposes Plan to Give Teachers $10,000 Raises



By Jason Doyle Oden

Senator David Holt has come up with a plan to give teachers a $10,000 raise. It’ll take a multi-year approach through six pieces of legislation Holt introduced to the State Senate. An interesting aspect to Holt’s plan is that it doesn’t require a tax increase.

“I believe that Oklahoma’s future success depends on educated citizens, which depends on great teaching, which depends on competitive salaries for teachers,” Holt said.   “Our salaries are not competitive, which means we will ultimately fail to meet our goals as a state.   As the son of a retired teacher, a parent of a public school student, and a cheerleader for Oklahoma’s future, I appreciate the urgent need from various perspectives.”

Holt believes the state has a moral obligation to address the teacher pay issue in a definitive way this session.

“I believe I am proposing a practical and realistic solution, and to achieve that on this issue, I think a plan must have at least three characteristics – no tax increase, multi-year implementation, and a multi-faceted approach.   By multi-faceted approach, I mean that there is no silver bullet.   You can’t accomplish this with one idea or one bill,” Holt said.  “I believe a teacher pay raise must rest on a three-legged stool of tax reform, efficiencies in school administration, and a statutory commitment of future revenue growth.   The precise details of my proposals may or may not be the perfect approach, but I believe strongly in these principles and this framework.”

According to Holt’s figures, it would take around $400,000,000 to give the approximately 41,000 public school teachers a $10,000 raise.

“I believe that if we’re not talking about at least a $10,000 raise, we’re not doing what it will really take to be competitive.   A $10,000 raise would move Oklahoma’s current average near today’s national average, but a realistic plan for accomplishing this will take years to implement, at which time the national average will be even higher.   We have to start thinking ahead of the curve, not years behind it.”

He doesn’t believe the state needs to raise taxes to begin catching teacher salaries up to the national average.

“Increasing the income tax rate is not something I believe the people of Oklahoma want, which means it is a political non-starter, and I wanted to make a proposal that is realistic,” Holt said.  “Further, I don’t think it is good public policy to increase the income tax rate, as a competitive rate is a key contributor to future economic growth.  But most importantly, I believe you can implement a significant pay raise without a tax increase, as I have demonstrated with my proposal.   If you can do it without a tax increase, then that’s what you should do.”

Holt’s six pieces of legislation pave the way to his reforms. It puts state questions in front of voters to force the Legislature to find savings through tax credit, rebates, exemption and deduction reforms. Some of the bills also codify the teachers raises and captures revenue from future growth to dedicate it to paying for raises. Another one of the measures also asks voters to create a commission to redraw school districts so there is no more than 200 districts in the state without closing schools. Voters also will be asked to shift all the savings from a smaller number of school administrations to teacher salaries.

“We all know that the time for efficiency has arrived.   We can be a low tax state or we can be an inefficient state, but we can’t be both.   If we want to be a low tax state, and I want that for Oklahoma, then we have to spend money wisely.   This resolution creates the framework to finally do what we know has to be done, but accomplishes it fairly and in a way that protects school sites.  Most importantly, the exclusive beneficiaries are teachers.   If we’re going to merge district administrations, I think it is imperative that the savings go exclusively to teacher pay raises.”

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  1. Bob, 22 January, 2016

    $400 million? Really? So we have been wasting these dollars? And ONLY after a liberal democrat wins the house seat in Holt’s district he starts to talk about raising teacher salaries and ending waste and inefficiencies? What took so long?

  2. castor, 23 January, 2016

    Reducing the number of school districts and administrators is a sine qua non and should yield worthwhile savings that can be applied to salaries. But why can’t we figure out how to distinguish the best from the worst? No bad teacher should get ANY raise. No outstanding teacher should be limited to a raise that is appropriate for the average teacher.


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