A legislative victory for teachers could be reversed.
A taxpayer group plans to try to repeal it through a referendum. That effort alone could put everything on hold.
It’s a new wrinkle of anxiety for teachers still wanting more money for classrooms.
The money for their raises and the taxes to pay for them could be stopped before they take effect.
The leaders of Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite say they believe teachers should be paid more.
“We believe there are ways to do this without further burdening Oklahoma taxpayers,” said Ronda Vuillemont-Smith.
The legislature approved pay raises and new taxes.
Now, lawmakers are warning educators a veto referendum leaves their raises in doubt.
“Unfortunately, if they get the signatures, it would put all the teachers’ pay raises on hold until November, or whenever you’re able to vote on the state question on the ballot,” stated Representative Mickey Dollens.
The group behind the referendum says that’s how it should work.
“It would be impossible to give the money back to the people once it’s collected,” said Vuillemont-Smith.
At the Capitol, everything has a process and that may be the only thing that prevents the veto referendum from holding up the raises.
David Blatt, from the Oklahoma Policy Institute, says “there is every possibility there will not be enough time to get this on the November ballot.”
Blatt believes that, given enough time, the referendum could threaten the teacher raise, but that’s the issue – there’s a 90-day time frame to do paperwork and get 41,000 signatures for it to happen.
“They simply won’t have time to go through the hoops and get the signatures and get it certified in time to stop this from happening in the next few months,” stated Blatt.
The time frame doesn’t discourage the petition’s backers, who plan to file it within a week.
Vuillemont-Smith says, “the people who are going to have to pay should have a say in whether their taxes are raised.”
The secretary of state’s office confirmed that the petition, with enough signatures, would delay the start date of the law, the taxes, and the raises.
The group has a 90-day deadline to get it done and on the ballot in November.