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Statehouse Update: Teacher Pay

Indiana's educators are underpaid, but who will foot the bill?

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Everyone agrees Indiana's teachers need to be paid more, but there is little agreement about how to make that happen. 

The Indiana State Teachers Association, in announcing its 2019 legislative agenda in December 2018, said the state ranks in the bottom third for teacher pay in the country.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb made the issue one of his key initiatives in his Jan. 15 State of the State address.

“In my budget proposal last week, I requested K-12 education funding increases of 2 percent for the next two years. That's a 4 percent increase and equates to $432 million more than today,” stated Holcomb.

“We're in a financial position to use surplus dollars to pay off a pension liability that local schools currently pay...These two proposals would result in $572 million new dollars to K-12 schools over the biennium. I believe local school districts should allocate 100 percent of the $140 million to increasing teacher paychecks.”

House Republicans want to drive more money into K-12 classrooms in an effort to raise teacher salaries, but only using existing resources.

House Bill 1003, authored by Rep. Dale DeVon, R-Granger, would encourage Indiana school districts to transfer only 15 percent or less of their state money into its operational budget, which funds items like administrative costs, school safety and superintendents’ salaries. HB 1003 says districts should keep the remaining 85 percent for classroom instructional needs, including teachers’ paychecks. Nothing in this bill, however, says the savings from trimming operating costs must be passed on to teachers. HB 1003 passed the House Education Committee by a 9-3 party line vote, and then headed to the House Ways and Means Committee.

House Bill 1396, authored by Rep. Tony Cook, R-Cicero, establishes the teacher supplemental compensation fund, and ncreases the cigarette tax by $1 to $1.995 per pack of regular size cigarettes with the additional revenue deposited in the fund.

Senate Bill 606, authored by Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Centerville, removes a provision that provides that a combination of certain factors may account for not more than 33.33 percent of the calculation used to determine an increase or increment in teacher salaries. HB 1205 also does this, but SB 606 does not mandate a salary increase.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats said they will push for $150 million in wage hikes for teachers.

House Bill 1205, authored by Rep. Pat Boy, D-Michigan City, provides that a school corporation must provide each classroom teacher a salary increase of between 2 percent and 5 percent to receive a basic tuition support distribution that includes the additional appropriation, among other things.

House Bill 1611, authored by Rep. Ryan Hatfield, D-Evansville, provides that the minimum annual salary for a full-time teacher employed by a school corporation may not be less than $50,000.

House Bill 1560, authored by Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, provides that a school corporation may provide an increase or increment in a local salary range for a teacher who possesses a master's degree or doctorate degree.

 

Rob Burgess, News Editor at NUVO, can be reached by email at rburgess@nuvo.net, by phone at 317-808-4614 or on Twitter @robaburg.

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