The same day the House and Senate adjourned without any new education funding, the governor signed two bills adding funding, and a third that takes some away.
Governor Mary Fallin signed the new Amazon tax bill and the Ball and Dice Bill. It’s expected $40 from those measures will go to education funding.
The governor also signed the repeal of the hotel-motel tax that was in the original education funding package and was expected to add $50 million to education.
So far, the Legislature has approved $456 million for increased pay for certified teachers, support professionals and student education. Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest said they're moving in the right direction, close to OEA's original request of $506 million.
The OEA has been advocating for is eliminating the capital gains exemption as well, which would raise nearly $120 million per year for the state. The capital gains tax is the tax you pay on the profit of the sale of property or investment.
That was originally in the agreement but was removed in the final deal because Republicans would only agree to an increase in the gross production tax only if capital gains was removed.
Tuesday, Democratic Representative Scott Inman attempted to bring a bill ending capital gains deduction, but it failed in the House 26-56. Following the vote, the House adjourned for the day around 10:15 a.m.
Teachers packed the upper level of the chamber and, as the House adjourned for the day, chants of “Do your job” and “We’ll be back” filled the building.
As representatives left the chamber, some were cheered, others were booed over their position on a capital gains tax the House, so far, refuses to consider.
That's what led teachers, like Union's Betty Morgan, to patiently wait for meetings with lawmakers like Tulsa Representative Weldon Watson.
Morgan was there to gauge his support for any new taxes.
Watson said while he would support some more education funding, he doesn’t believe his colleagues will.
"Representative Watson seems to think there is no additional funding coming across for education this session and I chose not to believe that," Morgan said.
Teachers packed the fourth floor of the Capitol, but the crowd was much smaller than previous days, both inside and outside, where many school districts have set up tents with plans to stay as long as it takes.
Union teacher Kristie Blakely said, "And most of us, obviously, are here, and they're calling school off again, so, we're saying, ‘No, we won't be back in the room until this is funded.’"
Inside the Capitol, the Senate held a short session with no action on anything related to education.
The gallery was packed with teachers who watched another day pass without getting what they wanted.
Representative Watson said he supports education but is telling teachers that nothing more may happen this year.
“I do think that more and more teachers are understanding that, and, as they do, they know it's something that won't be accomplished this year,” Watson said.
Monday, Oklahoma senators Josh Brecheen and Nathan Dahm proposed changes to tax credits for wind energy companies as another way to raise millions of dollars for education. If approved, the bill would give $70 million to education instead of corporate wind companies.
That bill is alive in the Senate, but the House said a capital gains tax won’t be considered.
Meanwhile, Wednesday is the first day filing begins for those wanting to run for office, so the Capitol is making special arrangements.
Priest said it’s imperative that future legislators are champions for education.
The Highway Patrol said the OEA has a permit to continue the protest next week.
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