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(The Center Square) – A measure to increase the base pay of Montana's public school teachers heads to the state Senate after overwhelmingly passing the House this week.

House Bill 143 sponsored by Rep. Llew Jones, R-Conrad, seeks to offer financial incentives to school districts who offer teachers who are in the first three years on the job higher wages.

While Montana ranks 28th in average teacher pay at a little more than $54,000 annually, according to Business Insider based on 2019 figures, the state lags near the bottom when in comes to starting teacher pay.

According to a fiscal note attached to the bill, it could cost state taxpayers an additional $2.5 million in fiscal 2023, $2.8 million in 2024, and $3.1 million in fiscal 2025.

The vote in the House was 95-2 in favor of the measure with three absences.

The Senate will now take up the bill, which has the support of Gov. Greg Gianforte.