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Tulsa Lawmakers: Solution Before Teacher Strike Deadline Unlikely

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

As a possible teacher strike draws near, lawmakers in Tulsa say talks are happening but a solution is unlikely before a deadline set by teachers.

In fact, several said there's still a spending problem in the schools.

Several talked about consolidation and cutting administration, perhaps waiting for rebounding economy to bring in money for teacher raises.

The Tulsa City Council meets occasionally with groups of lawmakers to discuss issues, but Friday there was really only one: how the state budget impacts education.

Republican Senator Gary Stanislawski called for more school consolidation and local taxes to help schools but agreed the state has to find new revenue to balance the budget.    

Democrats are still hopeful.

“I believe anything is possible, but if we look at our history, it's very unlikely, but as for me and my caucus, we'll be for funding education in any way that works,” said Democratic Senator Kevin Matthews. 

The line in the sand from the state teachers union gives the legislature just three weeks to come up with a plan, and while Republican Senator Dave Rader said he's sure a compromise is coming, he's not sure the wish list from the OEA matches what teachers need.

"If that's for sure, that's not the teachers I've talked with, so I don't know if I have a comment on that … because things being thrown out publicly may not be what's being said privately," Rader said. 

A majority of the house voted for tax increases and a teacher raise in the "Step Up Plan" but not enough for it to pass.

Representative Scott McEachin said any plan from outside the legislature won't work and with the state economy rebounding, he's unsure about new taxes anyway.
"So I think you have to look at ... maybe raising a little revenue somehow, but not going back to these ridiculous package plans ... and maybe not," said McEachin. 

None of the lawmakers at the meeting Friday are in that handful of people working on whatever compromise could be in the works. 

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