INDIANAPOLIS — State Rep. Ryan Hatfield, D-Evansville, was recently appointed to serve as Assistant House Democratic Floor Leader for the 2019-2020 Indiana General Assembly session.
The Southwest Indiana legislator said he's using his new, fancy-sounding leadership position at the Statehouse to try to push through a bill that would give new Indiana teachers a salary bump.
Hatfield filed House Bill 1611, which would raise the minimum salary for full-time teachers to $50,000, according to a news release from his office.
The average starting salary for an Indiana teacher was $35,241 for the 2016-2017 school year, according to the National Education Association.
"It is no secret that Indiana teachers are either leaving the occupation or the state because they are not paid enough," Hatfield said. "We need good teachers in Indiana to improve our schools and prepare our students. To have good teachers, we need to pay them the wage they deserve."
Gov. Eric Holcomb, in Tuesday night's State of the State speech, introduced a proposal to start addressing teacher pay.
Holcomb is asking lawmakers to appropriate $150 million from the more than $2 billion in state reserves to pay off a pension liability that local schools pay. The one-time investment would save schools $140 million over the next two years, with additional savings realized down the line.
The governor is hoping schools will put some of that savings toward raising teacher pay. The amount will vary from school to school, with larger districts realizing larger savings.
"One way to attract and retain more teachers is to make teacher pay more competitive," he said.
If the entirety of the $140 million savings was spent on teacher pay and spread equally across every teacher in the state, it would work out to a raise of a little more than $1,000 a year.
A recent survey of Indiana's school superintendents by Indiana State University found 91 percent reported a teacher shortage. Low pay is seen as a contributing factor.