Lawmakers React As Droves Of Teachers March On Oklahoma Capitol
OKLAHOMA CITY - While thousands of teachers and their supporters rallied outside the capitol, hundreds more met inside with lawmakers.
Hallways to lawmakers’ offices were packed as teachers and their supporters met with legislators. The message was, for the most part, the same.
“Yes, the pay raise is really amazing and I appreciate it, but I’m not teaching for the pay raise. I’m teaching for the students,” said teacher, Jacquelyn Musgrove.
Teachers will get on average $6,100 more in their paychecks. And the legislature OK’d $50 million for classrooms. Teachers want $200 million restored. Former teacher-turned-legislator Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman, says teachers have to continue applying pressure.
“They think they can wait you out. And that’s been the talk. And you can even see them, they’re getting cornered and they just go back to their office kinda hang out,” Rosencrants said.
But other lawmakers say the pie is only so big. Rep. Todd Thompson, R-Nevada, said, “We’re trying to also balance the needs of every other agency and trying to make sure that we shore up any inefficiencies.”
Legislative leaders are talking about making changes in capital gains and wind taxes. They’re also considering allowing property taxes to be used for raises and supplies.
“This would not be an increase in property tax. It would just be a more flexible use of that already existing base of property tax,” said Sen. Greg Treat, R-Majority Floor Leader.
But raising $150 million more, on top of the $400 million they’ve already come up with.
“I think this year it’s going to be difficult just in the sense that we passed an historic amount of money for education. The biggest teacher raise in the history of Oklahoma,” said Rep. Harold Wright, R-Weatherford.