Stacey Abrams wants to make average teacher salary $75,000 in Georgia

The issue of teacher pay has made its way into the race for Georgia governor.

Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams proposed a plan to raise the average salary of a Georgia teacher to $75,000 per year. The pay increase would be spread out over four years and cost more than $400 million per year, Abrams' campaign says. 

She said the raise is long overdue for Georgia teachers, who are burning out during the COVID-19 pandemic.


"Over the last four years and the last 20 years there have been consistent, unadulterated cuts to progress," Abrams said at a Sunday afternoon event. "Slashing budgets, eliminating opportunities, creating division when we should be coming together to lift up our children."

Abrams is running against Gov. Brian Kemp, who raised teacher pay by $5,000. Abrams said that isn't enough to recruit and retain teachers. 

Kemp's campaign shrugged off the opponent's criticism and said Abrams is proposing a new spending bill. Abrams said she also wants to expand Medicaid to cover uninsured adults. Abrams, though, said if Georgia tax collections grow at 3% a year, the state would have more than $1 billion in new revenue yearly.

"Stacey Abrams’ latest Hail Mary proposal for over $2 billion in new state spending annually joins an ever-growing pile of pie-in-the-sky plans that would make inflation worse and require higher taxes on Georgia families to pay for it all," spokesperson Tate Mitchell said in a statement.

Abrams claimed her plan would be funded with growth from state tax collections. Abrams said if Georgia tax collections grow at 3% a year, the state would have more than $1 billion in new revenue yearly, enough to pay teachers more and expand Medicaid.

Kemp used a surplus to provide refunds to Georgians this year. 

"We are losing the fight for our children’s future," Abrams said Sunday as she accepted the endorsement of the Georgia Association of Educators. "We need a governor who does not see education as an election year gimmick, but sees our responsibility as a guarantee for the strongest future for our people."

Georgia has long had the highest average teacher pay in the South, but Abrams is proposing a $1.65 billion bump over four years. She would raise the typical starting salary to $50,000 from the current level of just under $40,000 and increase average teacher pay to $75,000 from $60,553 this past school year, as tracked by the National Education Association.

Georgia currently ranks 21st in teacher pay nationwide, but the bonuses would move the state into the top 10.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.