LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Educators are pushing to put teacher pay raises on the upcoming special session agenda, but as of now, the session is focused on tax cuts using the state’s surplus.

The state currently has a $1.6 billion surplus. President of the Arkansas Education Association, Carol Fleming, said Arkansas’ teacher salaries are some of the lowest in the nation and action needs to be taken now.

“Raising the minimum salary, for our educators around the state will allow us to be able to recruit and retain educators in the profession,” Fleming said.

While, Republican State Senator Bob Ballinger said he’s all for raising teacher salaries, just not with the state’s surplus.

“The question is whether or not we’re supportive of doing it right now with surplus money and the answer is no, we’re not,” Ballinger said.

Ballinger said the legislature needs time to consider how it will fund the raises long-term, which he said should happen during the general session next year.

“We will have the adequacy study, all this stuff will be presented at the table, and all this stuff will be debated over the next few months,” Ballinger said.

Fleming said teachers need the extra support as soon as possible, so she wants the discussion to come up at the August special session.

“Our students are our most precious commodity within our state, and ensuring that we have qualified educators in our schools is why we should put raising the salaries at the top of our priority list,” Fleming said.

The special session is set to start the week of August 8.