Hillsborough County Millage Law Backfires Causing Controversy Among Teachers


Hanna Rehm

Chemistry teacher Michelle James-Yarish describes her decision to vote to pass the Millage Law to be passed in Hillsborough County. The law was introduced in August of 2022, and on August 14th the votes were counted and recounted, to come to the ultimate decision not pass the law. Photo courtesy of Hanna Rehm.  

On Sunday August 14th Hillsborough County introduced a Millage Law on their ballot which would’ve increased teacher’s salary, however it wasn’t approved so teachers began to debate their differing opinions.   

“[I voted] against because teachers would then be double taxed on the income that they’re getting,” said science teacher Heather Prokop. 

On the other hand, “[I voted for the law], not only have we not gotten cost living increases or raises that we were promised as part of our contract, we’ve actually lost money,” said Michelle James-Yarish, a teacher in the science department.  

The effect of the law not being passed negatively impacted the families in Hillsborough County, but if the law was passed, the estimated amount that might’ve been gained for the county was $146 million annually for four years. 

The thought of an increase in salary was greatly appreciated, but also controversial because of an increase in tax in 2018. 

“We just approved in Hillsborough County an extra cent two years ago, and now you’re asking them to pay even more,” said Prokop.  

If the installation of this extra tax in 2018 didn’t occur, it’s possible the present day voting could’ve gone in the other direction. While on the topic of teacher’s salaries, the county never specified a numerical value of how much their salaries would increase.  

“I have zero idea, they didn’t tell us. It said 85 percent at first, [then] 75 percent of that amount would go to teachers, then in the news it said maybe some would go to teachers,” said Prokop.  

In years past, there’s been in 2021 and in years past when teachers have asked for a pay raise and officials responded by saying they need to cautiously spend the money.  

“[Teachers] don’t trust the government to use the money wisely,” said James-Yarish. 

Since the salary information isn’t exact, it’s inevitable that some of the employees would vote against the law and not believe the information that was given to them. The misleading of voters can cause distrust within the relationship of the school board and the people.  

The voters have their different reasons for choosing a certain side, and many factors can lead to that decision, such as family life and not putting faith in the government. 

“I know other teachers that are living barely within livable wage, so I know it’ll help many, many, many teachers,” said James-Yarish. 

There will always be a fight from the teachers to gain an increase in salary until a law is implemented but even without it, teachers still show up to school every day and carry on with their passion for sculpting the minds of students.