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Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Senate approves teacher compensation bill by unanimous vote

Senate Bill 2488 now heads to the House for review

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

The Hawaii Senate passed SB2488, SD2 Relating to teacher compensation by unanimous vote Tuesday morning.

In all, the bill provides more than $37 million for teacher compensation.

The measure would allocate more than $26 million for pay differentials, salary adjustments to fix compression, or a combination of both, with an additional $1.9 million set aside for public charter school teachers and $9 million for fringe, which covers additional costs, such as retirement benefits, that would accrue should the bill become law.

"This is a great first step," said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee. "The bill is now going to move over to the House, where we’re going to continue to work with legislators to make sure that we find a way to fund teacher compensation, including things such as the differentials and compression."

Wearing a red HSTA shirt, Sen. Michelle Kidani (D, Mililani Town, portion of Waipi‘o Gentry, Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia) stood and addressed her fellow senators prior to the floor vote:

"Aloha kakahiaka, Mr. President.

I rise in strong support of Senate Bill 2488. 

Colleagues, I know that you have received the same feedback from the teachers, parents, and community members in our communities as I have.

Teachers are underpaid. If this body believes that our keiki is the future for our state, then we must invest in those who prepare them for that role.

The Legislature does not normally get the opportunity to weigh in on this topic, but today, we have an opportunity to let teachers across the state know that we have their back.

I wish I had a magic wand and could guarantee the financial resources needed to properly compensate every teacher. You all know I have tried with many different bills. 

I wish that the amount in this bill were higher, but I’m so deeply appreciative of Ways and Means Chair Sen. (Donovan) Dela Cruz for searching for every possible dollar that we could put into this bill.

Colleagues, I strongly urge you to vote in support of Senate Bill 2488 as the first step towards properly compensating our teachers.

Mahalo."

Rosenlee thanked Kidani, who chairs the Senate Committee on Education, and Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz (D, Mililani Mauka, Waipi‘o Acres, Wheeler, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, portion of Poamoho), chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, for their support.

"We are grateful to Sen. Dela Cruz for reconsidering this bill and adding more funding to this measure, which is what we need to truly address this teacher shortage crisis," Rosenlee said, adding that "Sen. Kidani is one of our biggest warriors in the entire Senate. But it’s good to see that all the senators, they voted unanimously to pass this bill. I know it’s always difficult, especially at times like these, to try to find funding. It’s going to take all of our resources to do that."

SB2488, SD2 now crosses over to the House, where it will undergo a similar vetting process.

Rosenlee encourages HSTA members to follow the bill's progress, and submit testimony in support of the measure.

"Every step of the way, we’re going to be sharing with our members the progress that this is making, just like it happened today," Rosenlee said, "and when the bill comes up in the House, we’re going to need your help with testimony. I was so happy that so many teachers, nearly 300 teachers sent in testimony (to the Senate), and we want even more. So when it comes out, we will be sending out an email. Please. It’s not hard. It’s just a simple thing, saying your story about why we need to fund these bills."

Get ready to submit testimony! If you haven't already done so, create an account on www.capitol.hawaii.gov by clicking on "Register" in the upper right corner.

In one or two short paragraphs, tell your personal story or specific anecdotes about how fixing the salary compression issue and/or differentials will help you, and/or others to remain public school teachers, librarians, or counselors, help your students, or how it will help other teachers from leaving the profession or our state.

Make sure you're subscribed to our Member Matters e-newsletter. During the legislative session, we usually receive just 48 hours notice about committee hearings, leading to our urgent, last-minute testimony requests.

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