OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma House of Representatives has distributed nearly $127,000 in pay raises to 14 employees since Jan. 1.
According to the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services, the largest pay increase was $20,000, a 30 percent increase.
A spokesman for House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, Jason Sutton, told the Tulsa World that the money came from the House’s appropriated operating budget.
“The House has a relatively small professional staff serving 101 lawmakers, and we believe it is important to maintain continuity and experience to best serve the state,” said Sutton.
The House raises come as lawmakers are being asked to consider tax hikes on tobacco and fuel to fund core services and raises for teachers.
The raises came as a surprise to the Oklahoma Education Association and Oklahoma Public Employees Association, which are seeking pay increases for teachers and state employees.
But Alicia Priest, president of Oklahoma Education Association, didn’t question the raises, saying it’s her understanding they were given to keep quality staff.
“I would press them that the same is true for educators and educational support professionals in the state of Oklahoma,” Priest said. “Teachers and support professionals deserve a raise that will keep them in the classroom or driving the school bus or staffing the office.”
A spokesman for Republican Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz said the Senate hasn’t given out pay raises since Jan. 1.
Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com