Action at the Capitol reached a crescendo Wednesday night as a dramatic late-night vote rejected the major school choice bill of the session.
Now, the author of that bill are trying to figure out what’s next.
Republican leaders who pushed for Senate Bill 1647, initially called the Oklahoma Empowerment Act, said they are not done fighting for school choice, even as “No” votes split the party and the statehouse this session.
Senator Pro Tempore Greg Treat authored the bill.
“We’re going to continue the fight,” Treat said. “Nothing’s over – ever -- in this building.”
Senator Treat said he was dismayed as the vote turned against him Wednesday night, closing at 24–22, but he’s not giving up.
Treat is still hopeful in his plans to create a marketplace of private vendors to compete with public schools.
“Our kids deserve options, and if they get options, I believe the market forces will improve their traditional neighborhood school, as well,” Treat said. “When you’re competing for those dollars, it’s not just the private school in that marketplace that benefits.”
House Republican leadership maintains that they will not hear a voucher measure like Treat’s Education Savings Account legislation this session.
Senator Treat said he’s heard otherwise from House lawmakers.
“Leadership on the House side indicated before session that this wasn’t the session but next session was that, if the governor got re-elected, they would be supportive of school choice,” Treat said.
Funding for Treat’s Education Savings Accounts, or vouchers, could come up again this session through several different routes.