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Truth Test: Coburn Says Teachers Will Still Get Raises Without Tax Hike

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

Among the hottest of the hotly debated issues facing Oklahomans right now, nothing may be more of a flash point than the recent pay raises passed for teachers. Those raises are set to be funded by the largest tax increase in state history.

A group of Oklahomans, led by former Sen. Tom Coburn, is attempting to create a state question that would repeal the taxes to fund the raises. The group, Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite!, maintains the raises will be safe whether the taxes are in place or not. Currently, the state question, numbered 799, is only a petition which needs just short of 42,000 signatures to become a state question.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court is deciding whether the petition can head to the ballot and it's something we'll be following closely. Justices heard oral arguments this week from education groups challenging the petitions right to go to the ballot. They recessed but have not issued a ruling as of Wednesday morning.

In the meantime, the inaugural Truth Test looks at the claim being made by OTU and Coburn.

Here's Coburn in an interview with Oklahoma City radio station KOKC.

“There was a law passed that gave teachers a raise, which they deserve, they need to get, they will get. No matter what happens with our petition their raise is secure,”

So, are the raises secure? No.

But it does get a little confusing.

The teacher pay raises are built around two bills. HB1023 outlines the new pay scale for teachers. it depends on a second bill HB1010xx. That bill details the new taxes that are supposed to fund those teacher raises. That's one Coburn is trying to repeal.

Take a look at the wording, House Bill 1023 is clear, reading,

“This act shall be contingent upon the enactment of...House Bill 1010xx...and shall not become operative as law otherwise."

So, no funding means no raises.

It also means we rate Senator Coburn's statement, False.

If you have a "Truth" you think needs testing, you can email truthtest@news9.net.

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