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Long-standing limit on teacher pay raises may end in 2010

A long-standing limit on teacher pay raises would end in just more than a year, under the new state budget endorsed overnight by the Joint Finance Committee.

The panel OK'd Gov. Jim Doyle's proposal to do away with the qualified economic offer.

Since 1993, the QEO has let school boards avoid contract arbitration by offering at least a 3.8 percent annual increase in teacher salaries and benefits.

Republicans say it's needed to keep local property taxes from sky-rocketing.

But as health insurance costs kept rising, teachers in many districts have said that actual pay raises have fallen by the wayside.

The proposed budget repeals the QEO next July. But schools would still be under state-mandated revenue limits.