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Ballot measures

Pay teachers the same salary as state lawmakers? Voters may decide in 2018

Math teacher Liliana Villalpando leads her students through a course at Garfield High School. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Math teacher Liliana Villalpando leads her students through a course at Garfield High School. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

California teachers' paychecks could equal those of state legislators under a new initiative that proponents are aiming to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.

The proposed measure would require that credentialed teachers in the state are paid no less than lawmakers, most of whom earn $104,118 in yearly pay.

That would be a substantial pay bump for most of the state's teachers. According to the state education department, average teacher salaries range from around $40,000 to $96,000, depending on the school's size and the teacher's experience level.

The initiative would impose a two-cent hike on the state sales tax to pay for the salary increase. It is being reviewed by the state attorney general before backers can gather the signatures to put it on the ballot.

Marc Litchman, the initiative's backer who runs an education nonprofit, said the pay boost is necessary to attract newcomers to the teaching profession, particularly in the fields of math, science and special education.

"What we're asking teachers to do is every bit as critical as what we're asking legislators to do," Litchman said.

Litchman said he has not yet discussed his proposal with teachers unions, a potent political force in the state, but he hoped the labor group would have interest, as well as those in the private sector.

"It's a long shot. It is," Litchman acknowledged. "But it's important and hopefully will get some traction and make the ballot."

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