ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Arkansas Legislature is meeting Tuesday for a Special Session to discuss a record surplus of $1.6 billion. The Young Democrats of Arkansas rallied in Rogers so that the surplus could go toward teachers’ wages.

Current and retired teachers gathered at Veterans Park. Retired school teacher Paula Irwin said many teachers live paycheck to paycheck and some have to get a second jobs.

“I know how tired I was when I was teaching leaving and to think I would have to go to a second job was very hurtful,” Irwin said. “I think we should value our teachers enough that they do not have to have a second job to make ends meet.”

Kristina Coleman, another retired teacher, joined the rally for teacher’s pay as well.

“They have to take money out of their pocket for supplies for the school for the students and they need an increase in their salary and it needs to be long term,” Coleman said.

Arkansas legislator response

KNWA/FOX24 talked with Arkansas’ 5th District representative, Bob Ballinger, who is not in favor of addressing teacher pay during the Special Session.

“It is not a good idea to set an ongoing obligation based on one-time money,” Ballinger said. “So right now we have a $1.6 billion surplus. We are probably going into a recession so there’s going to be less money.”

Ballinger said he is in favor of addressing teacher pay, but the surplus money is not the right way to bring it about.

Governor Asa Hutchinson plans to provide immediate tax relief for Arkansans and set aside $50 million for a school safety grant program, he said in a press release.

“As inflation rises and the cost of living increases, Arkansans need more money in their pockets,” Governor Hutchinson said. “With a record surplus in the last year fiscal year, we have the ability to provide financial relief and ensure our children can be protected in their schools.”

The session will begin at 11 a.m. Tuesday.