House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) announced this week that he is sponsoring legislation to give a 10 percent pay increase to teachers, education support personnel, state employees and retirees over the next two years. Ford said he is currently having the legislation drafted and expects to file it within the next week or two.
“Educators, state employees, and retirees have not had a cost-of-living pay increase since before the recession began,” said Rep. Ford. “The cost of living for educators, retirees, and state employees has increased by 10 percent since their last pay increase. But this pay increase will also help recruit quality teachers and be a boost for the statewide economy.”
The Legislative Fiscal Office has estimated that the cost of living has increased 7.5 percent since the last time educators and state employees received a cost-of-living pay increase in 2008. In 2011, Republicans in the state legislature used their supermajority to force through legislation requiring educators and state employees to pay an additional 2.5 percent toward their retirement, having the same effect as a pay cut. Taken together, educators and state employees have seen a drop of 10 percent in their income compared to what they were making in 2008.
“Educators don’t do this job for the money,” said Ford. “But they still have bills to pay, and, like anybody else, could be tempted to leave teaching if a better opportunity came along. If we want to keep and recruit the best and brightest educators, then we have to offer competitive pay.”
Ford said his bill would distribute the pay increase over a two-year period, with an increase of 7 percent in 2014, followed by an increase of 3 percent in 2015. The larger increase would come first to help offset the 2.5 percent that is being taken out of educators and state employees paychecks for their retirement.
Ford added that the pay increase would also give a much-needed boost to the statewide economy.
“Educators, state employees, and retirees are also customers. If they are making more money then they will also be spending more money at local businesses. So this isn’t just a pay increase; it’s also an investment in our economy. Anything less than a 10 percent pay increase over the next two years would be a slap in the face to educators, state employees and retirees.”