FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: State Rep. David Perryman
Capitol: (405) 557-7401
Income Tax Exemption for School Teachers Proposed by Rep. David Perryman
OKLAHOMA CITY – Incentives are provided in Oklahoma to encourage doctors to practice in rural areas, Tinker Air Force Base sponsors a high-tech educational incentive program that promotes science and engineering, and a measure introduced in the Legislature this year would authorize a tax exclusion for anyone from another state who moves to any Oklahoma County experiencing a population decline.
State Rep. David Perryman contends the state should provide school teachers with a financial incentive to remain in Oklahoma even though surrounding states offer more money.
The Chickasha Democrat has proposed an amendment to Senate Bill 20 that would exempt from state income taxes the first $40,000 in salary earned by any teacher “employed in an instructional capacity by a public school district located within this state…”
“Everyone at the State Capitol gives lip service to the claim that they are going to give classroom teachers a raise, but unfortunately it just never gets done,” Perryman said. “Frankly, it makes a good sound bite, but as soon as the cameras are turned off, it becomes evident that lip service is all that they want to give. This proposal is a genuine attempt to help classroom teachers. If we cannot afford raises, then we should provide income tax relief to teachers throughout the state. It would be a fair, across-the-board benefit.”
Oklahoma has approximately 42,000 classroom and resource (special ed) teachers, records indicate.
SB 20, which pertains to certification of educators from other states to teach in Oklahoma schools, passed the Senate in a unanimous vote Feb. 25 and was endorsed March 17 by the House Committee on Common Education. Now it will be placed on the House calendar for a vote by the full House.
Oklahoma teachers have not received an across-the-board pay raise in six or seven years, Perryman related. Oklahoma’s average annual teacher salary ranks 48th in the nation, making it difficult to attract and retain quality teachers, state school Superintendent Joy Hofmeister told a Senate committee recently.
Public schools collectively have about 1,000 teaching vacancies, and the problem of teacher shortages will worsen if the State Department of Education budget is cut again this year, as expected, Hofmeister said.
Oklahoma universities produce graduates in education, but often they leave for higher paying teaching jobs in other states, Hofmeister lamented.
State Rep. James Lockhart, D-Heavener, noted that a LeFlore County school lost a teacher (a librarian) to Fort Smith recently. “She got a $21,000 raise to do the same job in Arkansas,” Lockhart said. Another eastern Oklahoma school lost a science teacher to Arkansas. “He got a $15,000 raise, just by moving across the state line,” Lockhart said. “These teachers have college degrees, and most have college loans to pay off. Many have family obligations, as well. The best teachers will go where the money is.”
The incentive Perryman proposed would not be unique.
The Physician Manpower Training Commission, for example, provides financial incentives to recruit doctors and nurses to practice in areas that have a shortage of health professionals.
The PMTC sponsors a rural medical education scholarship loan program, a community physician education scholarship loan program, an intern-resident cost-sharing program, a physician placement program, a nursing student assistance program, and community match incentive programs. There have been 633 physicians recipients of PMTC assistance since 1976, the agency reports.
Similarly, select employees at Tinker Air Force Base in the Air Force Sustainment Center’s Engineering and Technical Management Directorate attend the University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State University to earn master’s degrees in science or engineering. The students’ tuition, fees and textbooks are paid for up to three semesters, and some students draw full salary while enrolled full-time in school.
Advanced degrees are essential for scientists and engineers who hope to advance in Tinker’s Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex.
The State Chamber of Oklahoma, in its Educated Workforce Initiative, supports bonuses or loan forgiveness programs for teachers who are certified to teach in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas of study. “Match public dollars invested in STEM with private dollars to encourage public/private partnerships and alignment between education and workforce needs,” the State Chamber recommends.
Perryman also pointed to House Bill 1747, which he co-authored. That measure would provide a five-year, 100% state income-tax exemption to persons who move from another state to one of a number of rural Oklahoma counties that a recent Department of Commerce study identified as projected to experience a long-term population decline. That bill passed the House, 64-11, and is assigned to the Senate Finance Committee.
MIKE W. RAY
Media Director, Democratic Caucus
Oklahoma House of Representatives
(405) 962-7819 office
(405) 245-4411 mobile