State Lawmakers Won't Make Education Funding Deadline
OKLAHOMA CITY - The clock is ticking. There’s less than a week to go before state lawmakers are required to have school funding in place. And the state’s largest teacher’s union has not ruled out another walkout if their demands are not met.
Lawmakers have only presented their school funding plan by the April 1 deadline twice before. This year will not be the third time.
“There is no way that we’re going to be able to do it. The education budget is so huge, it’s a great part of our budget,” said Senator Roger Thompson (R) Senate Appropriations Chair.
But talks are underway.
The Oklahoma Education Association is asking for an additional $400 million to increase classroom funding and give teachers a $3,000 annual raise.
“A $400 million ask when we have had certified over 570 million in growth revenue this year, is not asking for too much,” said Alicia Priest of the Oklahoma Education Association.
Lawmakers say an additional $400 million is not going to happen.
“Not this year. I think you’re going to see a significant increase in education this year. The Senate we want to put it in our classrooms,” said Thompson.
That said, the OEA is pleased with what they call “positive movement”, but they say a walkout is not off the table.
“It’s always part of the conversation. It’s never the goal,” said Priest. “What happens as a result of their actions is what happens.”
The governor and House of Representatives want to see a $1,200 pay increase for teachers.
The Senate wants to add to the funding formula and let local school districts decide whether to give teachers raises.