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Oklahoma Senator Proposes Tobacco Fund Raid For Teacher Pay Hikes

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A state Senator is proposing to take money from Oklahoma's Tobacco Settlement Endowment trust, and use it for teacher pay raises. A state Senator is proposing to take money from Oklahoma's Tobacco Settlement Endowment trust, and use it for teacher pay raises.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

A state senator is proposing to take money from Oklahoma's Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, and use it for teacher pay raises.

Senator Bryce Marlatt, of Woodward, plans to introduce a resolution that would allow voters to make the decision. He says the money could be used without compromising the mission of the fund.

The change would require an amendment to the Oklahoma State Constitution.

The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Fund, or TSET, was created in 2000 from a master settlement agreement with big tobacco.

Right now, the trust is worth about a billion dollars.

Only trust earnings, which amount to about 40 to 50 million annually, are spent on health related programs, research and grants.

TSET claims their work will be greatly impacted if lawmakers decide to take from the trust.

“We are seeing an historic decline in smoking in our state and we know that is because of the ongoing investment by TSET and our partners to really drive home the message to have a healthy lifestyle,” says Julie Bisbee with TSET.

TSET is the only constitutionally protected endowment funded by the tobacco settlement.

Senator Marlatt says because smoking rates are at an all-time low in Oklahoma, TSET funds could be used without compromising the mission of the trust.

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