New Oklahoma Law Allows Lottery Dollars to be Matched by Schools for Teacher Raises

KTUL-Tulsa - May 29, 2022 11:22 am

Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law on Thursday allowing excess Oklahoma lottery dollars to go towards increasing teacher salaries.

Since 2005, the Oklahoma Lottery Commission Executive Director, Jay Finks, said its contributed to education.

“We’ve contributed over $1.1 billion since then but it’s hard to track, and it’s hard for people to see, ‘Is my lottery expenditures making a difference?'” Finks said, “Even though we say, ‘Yes it is.’ It’s sometimes less tangible.”

Finks said the commission worked with lawmakers to create a ‘tangible’ way to see the dollars you spend on lottery tickets go towards teacher salaries.

“It will still guarantee the formula dollars up to 65 million, and then anything above 65 million that we do from a profit standpoint, would go into this state match fund,” Finks said.

Finks said the lottery brings in around 80 million dollars a year. That would leave around 15 million to go towards the match fund.

“Let’s say a $4,000 raise, the state would match that $4,000 raise, and make it an $8,000 raise,” Finks said explaining the match fund.

State Representative District 77 (D), John Waldron, said he voted against it, and he’s a former educator.

“To give teachers a raise of say 20 percent, which would be competitive in the region, would cost $600 million dollars,” Waldron said, “We don’t have that much money in the lottery funds.”

Waldron sees this as a way districts with the resources to make the match draw in and retain teachers, while other school districts will be left behind.

He said the bill doesn’t include raises for support staff and limits the amount of teachers a district can give a raise to. He would rather see more state funding go towards raises across the board.

“We ought to give all our teachers a raise. We’re going to give some teachers a raise,” Waldron said, “And we’re going to claim we gave teachers a raise. That’s not the same thing. So I’m worried this is a little bit of smoke in mirrors.”

State Representative District 12 (R), Kevin McDugle, said he hopes this will help with our teacher shortage.

“You can only apply for 10 percent of your teachers. That way it kind of spreads out,” McDugle said, “Rural America gets some, urban areas get some, and if you’re a school that’s not taking advantage of it, that’s kind of your fault. I want our schools to look into it so that our teachers that are doing well can have that extra incentive in pay.”

The Lottery Commission said this law will take effect July 1, 2022.

 

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