Tulsa Chamber Says Legislation Is First Step To Improving Education

Thursday, March 29th 2018, 6:19 pm

Some Tulsa business leaders are praising lawmakers for their vote on the teacher pay raise, and several also urged lawmakers to continue restoring education cuts made over the years.

For the short term, they consider it a crisis averted and take the longer view that it's possible the legislature turned a corner on education funding.

A room full of business and civic leaders were on hand as the Tulsa Chamber cheered legislation they believe will help them attract business.

3/29/2018 Related Story: Governor Says She Will Sign Education Funding Bill

"At times, we have to overcome some of the obstacles we've created for ourselves by not properly funding education, so, you take that barrier out of the way and we'll expand jobs here in the market and other employers, I think, will do the same," said Steve Bradshaw, CEO BOK Financial.

Mayor G.T. Bynum said he was happy lawmakers defused the crisis that could have turned into a lengthy teacher walkout, but, said the state still has a long way to go on improving public education.

"This is a first step and a very important first step. This is the redirection of what has been nothing but decline and leading the nation in cuts for five years in a row," he said.

There were plenty of public school advocates in the room, but no one willing to call it a complete victory.

Tulsa School Board President Suzanne Schreiber was at the capitol for the breakthrough on the legislation.

"And there's a long road back, but this shows it's possible. We didn't get here in one year and we're not going to get it fixed in a year, but this is a start," Schreiber said.

The chamber was very concerned about the fallout from a walkout and had made more education funding and better teacher pay a key part of their lobbying efforts. They said that effort will continue.