Teacher salary petition drive nets 7,000 signatures

Director of Restore Teacher Salaries Patrick Hayes delivers a note to Governor Nikki Haley's secretary Wednesday at the Statehouse.

Columbia, (WACH) - A group of Palmetto State teachers criticized Governor Nikki Haley Wednesday for not including teacher raises in her executive budget.

Lawmakers have a billion dollars in surplus money to spend in next yearâ??s budget.

Restore Teacher Salaries is a grass-roots organization that is working to bring teachers' salaries back to the levels they were promised when they accepted their jobs. The group gathered nearly 7,000 petition signatures in the past month.

â??I'm going to stop talking about this issue when I'm being paid the salary I was promised when I took the job,â?? said Director Patrick Hayes. Hayes is a 4th grade teacher at Drayton Hall Elementary School in Charleston.

The House Ways & Means Committee will offer a two percent teacher raise; critics say thatâ??s not enough.

â??I intend to fight on the floor for an additional 1 to 2 percent,â?? said committee member Rep. Harry Ott.

The Calhoun County Democrat says teachers would make about $300 less than their counterparts throughout the Southeast under the current proposal in the committee.

The governor argues federal stimulus dollars once used to fund teacher salaries helped create the pay predicament, saying that money was merely a temporary fix.

"This is what happens when you use one time money for recurring expensesâ?? said Haley. â??At some point it's going to go down, and at some point the complaints are going to start.â??