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Little Movement In State Legislature As Teacher Walkout Approaches

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It’s T minus two weeks till a teacher walkout, unless they get the $10,000 raises they are demanding. It’s T minus two weeks till a teacher walkout, unless they get the $10,000 raises they are demanding.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

It’s T minus two weeks till a teacher walkout, unless they get the $10,000 raises they are demanding. 

Talks continue Monday among legislative leaders, but we aren’t seeing any real progress toward a solution.

Read Related Story: Capitol Week In Review – Deadline For Lawmakers, Looming Teacher Walkout

Millwood High School Math Teacher Allen Lehman and his daughter Gwen walk the quiet halls of the Capitol. They had hoped to lobby legislators for a teacher pay raise, but a lot of lawmakers are taking the week off for spring break, despite a planned teacher walkout two just weeks from Monday, March 19.

“Just reflective of their lack of a sense of urgency all of us see coming from this building,” said Lehman.

House leaders met with members of Professional Oklahoma Educators Monday, a group that suggested a six-tiered plan presented last week that did not include a funding plan. POE said meetings with lawmakers are going well.

Read Related Story: House Reveals Teacher Pay Plan With No Way To Fund It

“They like it,” said Ginger Tinney with Professional Oklahoma Educators. “They’re talking about it in their caucuses. They see this as a real possible solution. They have said the other plans, they’re not gonna [sic] work.”

But Senate leadership doesn’t seem to agree.

“Me personally, I’m enthusiastic about delivering on a real solution that’s funded,” said Majority Floor Leader Senator Greg Treat (R).

That, Treat said, is the plan that failed in the Senate last week by just two votes. It would raise taxes on cigarettes, motor fuel and the gross production tax.

Read Related Story: Bill For Teacher Pay Raises Fails After Not Receiving Enough Votes On Revenue

Senate leaders plan to resurrect it once it has the votes to pass. House democrats have said they don’t back the plan.

The House and Senate have worked on some tax reform packages.

“The Senate passed the capital gains tax exemption that came over to the House. The House has passed the itemized deduction that’s come over title on. There’s a path this week to get a significant teacher pay raise,” said Representative Jon Echols (R) Majority Floor Leader.

But at best, that would just raise enough for $3,000 raises. 

Lehman and his daughter left the Capitol discouraged.

“They can prevent this,” said Lehman. “They can get there if they want to. They just need to have the will.”

House leaders say they hope to have some kind of plan in the next two weeks, but they are shooting more for $5,000 raises than the $10,000 teachers are demanding. 

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