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Tulsa Parents Lobby For Education At Capitol

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Parents lobby in the office of OK State Sen Gary Stanislawski, (R) Tulsa. Parents lobby in the office of OK State Sen Gary Stanislawski, (R) Tulsa.
Chamber meets in Capitol Rotunda. Chamber meets in Capitol Rotunda.
Sears says as much as $50 million could go into education, but that depends on negotiations over spending for other needs - and tax cuts. Sears says as much as $50 million could go into education, but that depends on negotiations over spending for other needs - and tax cuts.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Several Parents from Tulsa Public Schools were in Oklahoma City Wednesday, lobbying legislators for more education funding.

They were part of a Tulsa Chamber of Commerce group at the Capitol. The Chamber has included Increased education funding as one of their top six priorities for lobbying.

Stephanie Coates, PTA president for Eliot Elementary, said it was the first time she's ever tried to sway a lawmaker.

"Watching the budget be cut three years in a row, watching my child's class sizes increase, and finally this year, with one of our most favorite teachers being cut, I just decided to see what I could do," Coates said.

04/24/2012 Related Story: Students, Parents Lobby Oklahoma Legislature On School Funding

She and two other Tulsa parents, and a member of Tulsa's school board, worked the halls of the state capitol hoping to get more money for education.

They talked a lot, but found that commitments are hard to come by. Republican Representative Earl Sears of Bartlesville chairs the budget committee and he's not sure.

"If the money is not there, I just can't get there," Representative Sears said. "And what money we have, I'm trying to get some to education,"

Sears says as much as $50 million could go into education, but that depends on negotiations over spending for other needs - and tax cuts.

"There will be some type of an income tax cut," he said.

At a time when many schools are cutting teachers to save money, capitol Democrats consider a tax cut irresponsible

"If you're going to have a tax cut, you have to cut spending, and education is the biggest piece of the pie," said Eric Proctor, D –Tulsa.

Coates and the other Tulsa parents won't know if they've made a difference until the budget it done, but they're sure they let some people know where they stand.

"And we hope to create the impression that funding for education in Tulsa is important, that the whole state is important," Stephanie Coates said.

It would take about $50 million in the state budget to keep all of the teachers working. The state cut that much from the budget a couple of years ago, but stimulus money filled the gap until now, so either the state has to rebuild the budget or schools have to cut teachers.

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