Governor Fallin Says She Will Sign Tax Hike Bill

Included in the legislation is an increase in taxes on oil and gas production, cigarettes and motor fuel and a bill that limits itemized deductions for Oklahoma taxpayers.

The OEA is still calling for a statewide walkout on Monday, arguing that lawmakers already are working to repeal the lodging tax, which generates almost $50 million for funding.

Bryant: "1990 was another historical year that we went to the capitol, we did the same thing, we went for four days, and they passed the bill then, House Bill 1017, which funded so much for our schools, but it's just more serious today, with all the budget cuts that just continue to come".

While the raise passed by the legislature and signed into law earlier this week is seen as a "great start" by teachers, the broader issue of education funding was not addressed to the satisfaction of teachers.

Despite calls from the governor, state superintendent, some statewide education associations, local superintendents and civic leaders to accept the pay raises as a "historic" victory, a significant number of Oklahoma teachers are vowing to fight on for restoring state aid to lower class sizes, pay for classroom materials and restore foreign language, music, art and Advanced Placement course offerings.

Based on the available data from the National Education Association, Oklahoma ranked 49th in the country in average teacher pay in 2016, with a little more than $45,200 a year.

Oklahoma teachers were inspired by the successful strike in West Virginia, where educators similarly exerted pressure on recalcitrant GOP lawmakers to win a major victory.

"It is completely about the students - even the teacher pay raise is about students", Priest said. On Thursday, Gov. Mary Fallin rushed to sign the bill into law. But, that won't be enough to avert a planned teacher walkout next week. Especially now that Arizona is also joining the fight, with teachers demanding a 20 percent teacher pay hike.

"It doesn't convince new teachers to stay in Oklahoma when they can STILL make $10k-$20k more across the borders".

"You're saying this isn't about teacher raises?" Oklahoma teachers say it's not enough, however, and they still plan to strike next week. Teachers have not had a raise in a decade even as they have borne higher out-of-pocket costs for health care and pensions.

A host of Tulsa-area schools have announced school closures for next week because of the looming teacher walkout.

"Lawmakers have left funding on the table that could be used immediately to help Oklahoma students", Priest said. "We are in the day to day involvement with these kids and we also know how far we've gone without that funding", said Acevedo. "There is still work to do to get this Legislature to invest more in our classrooms". Proud of our staff and thankful for our supportive administration and school board.

"I think it is going to be a real heavy lift to get agreement on approving any of those additional revenues", Blatt said.

Approving tax hikes in Oklahoma is extraordinarily hard, requiring a three-fourths supermajority in both chambers.


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