Sen. Bergstrom identifies primary obstacles to the legislature providing pay raises to teachers and state employees as insufficient revenue, unreasonable expectations and political maneuvering - proposes a three-phase plan.

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Senator Micheal Bergstrom (R-Adair) has proposed a three-phase plan aimed at providing pay raises for teachers and state employees.

“As a former teacher with close to two decades of experience in Oklahoma public school classrooms, I appreciate the frustration of our instructors,” Bergstrom said. “In the time since I took office in November 2016, one of the top priorities in my Republican Senate Caucus has been finding a way to give Oklahoma teachers a pay raise. Unfortunately, the budget hole and the constitutional requirement for 75 percent approval in both chambers have hampered our efforts. In the last several months, we have run through a special session, are still in a second special session and are nearly halfway through another regular session and there is still no pay raise. The planned teacher walkout looming in a few weeks adds yet another wrinkle to the situation.”

According to Bergstrom, three obstacles have kept the legislature from completing this task - insufficient revenue, unreasonable expectations and political maneuvering.

“My proposal deals with the first two issues. Hopefully, legislators choosing to put the best interests of the citizens of Oklahoma, our teachers and our students ahead of political desires will resolve the third,” Bergstrom said.

His proposal provides for a $6,000 teacher pay raise over three years, a $2,500 state employee pay raise for those currently making less than $50,000 over three years, and restoration of state aid formula funding for education in 2019. The revenue to pay for this phase only requires simple majority votes in both chambers. Among the revenue measures funding the first year are:

• Capital Gains Tax Restoration – Senate Bill 1086 (Sen. Rader), expected to generate $50 million in year one, and $108 million thereafter.

• Casino Ball & Dice – Senate Bill 1195 (Sen. McCortney), expected to generate $23 million; and

• Medicaid Work Requirement – Senate Bill 1030 (Sen. Brecheen), anticipated to generate $84 million.

The revenue to pay for the second and third phases of the plan is dependent upon new revenue bills to be approved this year, either in the current session by the legislature or by a vote of the people in November. Those measures include a $1 increase on cigarette taxes and increased levy on cigars, chewing tobacco, and e-cigarettes. It also includes a 5 percent gross production tax on all wells currently at two percent, all new wells, and raising all wells to seven percent after the initial 36 months. Each of these forms of revenue requires a 75 percent vote in both chambers. Bergstrom wants each to be a separate vote during the current legislative session. Under the proposal, any of these revenue measures not approved by the legislature would be passed on to a vote of the people in November.

“It is time for the legislature to move forward with a common sense approach that raises teacher salaries well above the regional average while doing so in a way that is realistic and does not financially undercut the state’s budget in future years,” said Bergstrom.

BERGSTROM TEACHER PAY PROPOSAL

Three obstacles have stood in the way of the legislature providing teachers with a pay raise in recent years:

Insufficient Revenue Unreasonable Expectations Political Maneuvering

The following proposal deals with the first two issues. Hopefully, considering the best interests of the citizens of Oklahoma will resolve the third. It includes three phases, the first funded by measures requiring only 50 percent votes in both chambers. This proposal provides for the following: 

$6,000 Teacher Pay Raise Over Three Years Restoration of State Aid Formula Funding for Education $2,500 State Employee Pay Raise Over Three Years
Fully Funded

PHASE 1

• 2019 New Spending – $2,000 Teacher Pay Raise ($116 million), $1,000 State Employee Pay Raise for those making less than $50,000 ($35 million), State Aid Formula Funding Restoration, which may in part be used for school support staff raises ($115 million).

• 2019 Total Price Tag – $266 million

• 2019 New Revenue – Capital Gains Tax Restoration/Rader ($50 million first year/$108 million thereafter), Casino Ball & Dice/McCortney ($23 million), Zero Emissions Soft Cap at $25 million ($80 million), Medicaid Work Requirement/Brecheen ($84 million), Removal of Tax exemption on luxury items ($35 million).

• 2019 Total New Revenue (50 percent votes) – $272 million

PHASE 2

• 2020 New Spending – $2,000 Teacher Pay Raise ($116 million), $1,000 State Employee Pay Raise for those making less than $50,000 ($35 million),

Each of these will be dependent upon passage of the revenue measures listed below, either passed by the legislature or a vote of the people in November.

• 2020 Total Price Tag – $266 million

• 2020 New Revenue – $1.00 increase on cigarette tax & increase levy on cigars, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes ($170 million), 5 percent GPT on all wells currently at two percent, all new wells and raise all wells to seven percent after initial 36 months ($230 million)

Each of these forms of revenue require a 75 percent vote in both chambers. Each source should be voted on separately during the current legislative session. Any that do not pass should be passed on to a vote of the people in November.

• 2020 Total New Revenue – $400 million

PHASE 3

• 2021 New Spending – $2,000 Teacher Pay Raise ($116 million), $500 State Employee Pay Raise for those making less than $50,000 ($18 million),

• 2021 Total Price Tag – $134 million

• 2021 Total New Revenue Needed – $0 (Already paid for if revenue passes in 2018.)