Gov. Fallin 'absolutely' plans to sign tax increase for teacher raises

Mar 31, 2018, 07:36
Gov. Fallin 'absolutely' plans to sign tax increase for teacher raises

Oklahoma House Republicans on Thursday passed a bill to repeal the $5 nightly lodging tax in the funding package, House Bill 1010XX.

And, lawmakers said they plan later this week to repeal a key part of their funding measure - a $5 hotel and motel tax that was supposed to generate almost $44 million in revenue.

OEA President Alicia Priest said in a statement Wednesday evening that the bill's passage was "a truly historic moment" and "will benefit a generation of Oklahoma students and will be felt in every community across this state".

Despite additional demands from the state's largest teacher's union, senators Wednesday night did not take up measures that would increase pay for school support staff and other public employees.

Teachers and parents were so upset with the state of education in Oklahoma that Alberto Morejon, who teaches eighth grade social studies at Stillwater Junior High School, set up a Facebook page for teachers and parents to discuss their concerns.

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The average Oklahoma teacher made $44,921 a year ago, according to the state Department of Education. The West Virginia strike kept the state's schools closed for nine consecutive school days and continued after lawmakers passed a one-time five percent raise, with teachers insisting that all their demands be met. It is the largest teacher pay raise in the history of the state. On Thursday, Gov. Mary Fallin rushed to sign the bill into law.

Credit: Oklahoma Teacher Walkout - The Time is Now! Oklahoma was previously ranked 49th in the county for teacher pay.

Tens of thousands of educators from across Oklahoma are expected to gather Monday at the Capitol in a show of force while rallying for more education funding.

Cameron school staff also posted a notice to Facebook, stating that although teachers are encouraged by the work legislators have done, "We feel that the current plan does not place enough emphasis on one of the most important issues, which is the funding of our students".

"You're saying this isn't about teacher raises?"

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Other districts, however, are backing off of the walkout idea.

Since teachers took to social media threatening a walkout, lawmakers offered a small raise. "Lawmakers have left funding on the table that could be used immediately to help Oklahoma students", she wrote. "We have classrooms that have ceiling tiles missing from rain", McElhany said. On average, they'll get about $6,000, but many of them are still walking out of their classrooms on Monday. "'We surveyed our members about, you know, 'you definitely want to go and you definitely want to stay out?' And I mean, it was overwhelming, over 90 percent were like 'you bet.'" "Unless the legislature comes up with some legislation before Tuesday that not only provides - yeah, the raises are great, but we need funding for our classrooms and our students", she said.

Sapulpa Public Schools will be closed April 2, 3, and 4. "This is a start, and we are getting Oklahoma back on track".

Like in Kansas, Oklahoma's tax cuts and deregulation spree didn't have the desired effect on the economy.

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