Teachers’ minimum wage bill advances

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AUGUSTA – The state Senate on Wednesday took a step toward establishing a new minimum salary for certified teachers working in public schools.

The bill, which now goes to the House for consideration, mandates that beginning June 30 teachers can be paid no less than $27,000 and after June 30, 2007, no less than $30,000.

The proposal was unveiled by Gov. John Baldacci during his State of the State address earlier this year and was originally included as part of the state’s supplemental budget.

It was removed from that legislation as part of compromise between Democrats and Republicans to secure bipartisan support for the budget.

The measure passed the Senate on a party-line vote, 19-16, and was amended to allow the two-year phase-in on a 20-15 vote.

Besides setting minimum salaries for teachers, the bill calls for the money to pay for the salary increases to come from the General Fund and that for 2007-08, the 123rd Legislature should appropriate at least $2,118,308 for that purpose. Such language, however, is not binding on future legislatures.

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