Key Washington lawmaker calls for K-12 pay raises next year

Originally published on May 21, 2012 5:05 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington teachers are woefully underpaid. That’s the conclusion of a draft legislative task force report. Now a key Washington state lawmaker says teachers and other school employees deserve at least a cost-of-living pay raise next year.

Twelve years ago, Washington voters approved Initiative 732. It requires annual pay increases for K-12 employees. The initiative didn’t come with any funding.

In recent years -– because of the Great Recession -– the legislature has suspended those pay raises. But now state revenues are starting to recover. House Ways and Means Chairman Ross Hunter says the state should make it a priority to ensure teacher pay keeps up with inflation.

“Because if we do not it is the equivalent to giving them a pay cut every year and that is not the way to attract high quality teachers," Hunter says. "And every piece of research we’ve ever looked at says that the quality of teaching in the classroom is the biggest determinant of student success.”

The new report from a legislative task force recommends an increase in the base salary for starting teachers from the current $33,401 to $48,687. That and other proposed pay increases could cost the state upwards of $2 billion more per school year.

Meanwhile, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, Gary Alexander, says he’d like to fund cost-of-living increases next year for all state employees, not just K-12.

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