Could Oklahoma's Education Plans Be On Hold?

The Oklahoma Senate made some changes to the House's $800 million education plan on Monday.

Monday, March 27th 2023, 5:56 pm



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Plans for Oklahoma education this legislative session could be at a standstill.

Today the Senate made some changes to the House’s $800 million education plan, a change that House leadership said would cause all education bills to be considered dead on arrival.

House Speaker Charles McCall has said multiple times, if the Senate amends the tax credit and public funding bills- everything coming to the House would be dead on arrival. If the speaker follows through with what he’s been saying, the state may be left without an education package from either chamber this session.

Today, the Senate held a joint education, appropriations and finance committee meeting, something democrats say was unprecedented.

The Senate committee voted on HB1935 and HB2775, the tax credit plan for homeschool and private school and the public school funding plan.

For the tax credit bill, there’s now an income cap of $250,000 in order to qualify for the tax credits. Families who qualify can now get $7,500 per child attending private school, up from the original $5,000.

Families who homeschool can get a maximum of $1,000 per family instead of per child. The original bill gave $2500 per child.

For the public school funding bill, the base teacher pay was raised by $3000 and senators also added a scaled pay raise- based on years of experience. 

The tax credit plan is estimated to cost about $98 million, and the public school funding is estimated to cost around $530 million.

The bills passed through committee and will now head to the Senate floor, but democrats shared their strong disapproval for these bills in the committee. 

"I have concerns that the fiscal impact being indicated here is very low compared to what is actually gonna be and that it's gonna grow," said Sen. Julia Kirt (D-OKC).

"Removing additional funding that could be invested in all of our kids' futures- I think this is a misstep," said Sen. Carri Hicks (D-OKC).

President Pro Tem Greg Treat has been an advocate for school choice initiatives, saying this bill "Empowers parents with roughly $98 million in additional funding to add to their choices.”

Republican senators were overwhelmingly in favor of both of these bills.

"I appreciate so much that we will finally be giving particularly parents in Oklahoma who do not have financial means to choose a different education path for their child," said Sen. Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville).

If Speaker McCall goes through with what he has been saying, this would mean over a dozen Senate bills, including maternity leave and a teacher pay raise, would not be heard in the House.

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