IN educators challenge Gov. Holcomb’s plan for 2021 pay raises

By Frank OliverDNR — Gov. Eric Holcomb gives his 2018 State of the State address in Indianapolis on Tuesday January 9, 2018.

MARY SCHUERMANN KUHLMAN

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb previewed his plans to give Indiana teachers a pay raise Tuesday night in his 2020 State of the State address. He told lawmakers he will recommend using $250 million from the surplus in the next budget to prepay the state’s obligations to the Teacher Retirement Fund.

“In turn, $50 million a year will be generated to redirect to teacher pay,” Holcomb said.

Keith Gambill, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association, countered that teachers can’t wait another year.

“Our salaries have been lagging behind for quite a number of years; that has been coupled with rising health-care costs,” he said. “They are hurting now.”

The governor noted that in 2019, K-through-12 education received a $763 million boost, including paying down $150 million in the Teacher Retirement Fund, freeing up $65 million more a year for teacher pay raises. Holcomb said he expects more to come after his Teacher Compensation Commission releases additional recommendations in the spring.

Gambill noted that, with the average teacher salary of $51,000, Indiana educators lag behind neighboring states.

“In order to attract and retain the absolute best, which is what our students deserve, we’re going to have to be competitive when it comes to salaries,” he said. “Other states aren’t going to mark time and wait for us to catch up, and the longer legislators delay, the further we get behind.”

Gambill said state lawmakers should take action on teacher pay this session, including a $75 million investment to increase base salaries.

“We recognize that the governor is just one part of the equation when it comes to moving this work forward,” he said, “and we call upon our legislators to do what’s right for our Hoosier students.”

According to state data, when adjusted for inflation, Indiana teacher salaries have fallen 15% since 2000.

The text of Holcomb’s State of the State remarks is online here.