Bill For Teacher Pay Raises Fails After Not Receiving Enough Votes On Revenue
OKLAHOMA CITY - In a surprise turn of events, the state Senate called a meeting to vote on a plan to raise teacher pay Wednesday night.
During the meeting, the Senate presented the plan for a 12.7 percent raise which would have roughly been a $5,000 pay raise. It passed with a 35-11 vote.
Following that vote, the Senate entered into a special session to discuss a $450 million revenue bill to fund the raises. The bill included a $1 per pack cigarette-tax, a 6-cent per gallon (gas and diesel) tax and raising the gross production tax from 2 percent to 4 percent.
About 11:40 p.m., the revenue bill to fund the teacher pay raise failed after only receiving 34 votes, two votes shy of 36 votes needed to pass.
“(I'm a) little disappointed that we had an opportunity to give a significant raise to teachers. (A) 12.7 percent is what this would have paid for as well as a $2,500 state employee raise,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, of Cheyenne.
Senate Democrats voted against the bill, saying it didn’t include enough funding for resources schools need and it didn’t come close to paying for the $10,000 raises teachers are demanding, so it would not have stopped a strike.
“I really don’t think it would influence whether or not we had a walkout. If anything, I think it would have given people false hope,” said Senate Minority Leader John Sparks, of Norman.
House Democrats and the Oklahoma Education Associated opposed the plan and the revenue bill.
After the revenue bill failed, OEA posted the following response to its Facebook page:
Senate Republicans plan to present the bill again in a few days. If it fails a second time, it can become a ballot measure.
This is a developing story. We’ll update as more information becomes available.