Oklahoma teachers continued to strike into their second week on Tuesday. Many school districts in the state have cancelled school and some districts have cancelled classes going into Wednesday. Although teachers made significant progress on meeting their goals since the strike began, they say lawmakers need to do more to ensure schools are well funded.
— Ben Felder (@benfelder_okc) April 10, 2018
Teachers wanted a repeal of the capital gains tax exemption, which could provide the state with more than $100 million in revenue. Rep. Scott Inman (D) tried to get this repeal on the floor on Tuesday during a House session, but 56 representatives voted against it, according to Fox23 News. Inman also tried to get representatives to hear a bill for a 4 percent cost-of-living adjustment for retired teachers, close to what teachers have requested, but representatives would not take it up.
Some lawmakers have also considered wind tax credit reform. Sen. Josh Brecheen (R) and Sen. Nathan Dahm (R) pushed for getting rid of tax credit payouts and argued this would bring in more funding as teachers continue to press lawmakers, according to KFOR. But Senate minority floor leader John Sparks (D) was skeptical and said it may not be legal or provide the necessary education funding.
— mike simons (@mikesimonsphoto) April 10, 2018
The governor signed legislation approving teacher pay raises of an average $6,100 last week, but teachers have pushed for a $10,000 raise. Teachers also want $200 million over three years to restore education funding, new revenue for health care, mental health, and public safety, and a 5 percent cost-of-living increase for retirees.
Last week, the Oklahoma Senate approved taxes on ball and dice gaming and a measure requiring third-party online retailers to collect sales tax. Ball and dice gaming is expected to bring in $22 million and the online retailer measure, or “Amazon bill,” is estimated to bring in $20 million, according to KFOR. It will head to the governor’s office soon. Lawmakers passed a repeal of the state’s hotel and motel tax, however. The Oklahoma Education Association wanted senators to oppose the repeal. Teachers want the governor to veto the repeal of the tax.
Millwood High School marches to the capitol on the seventh day of the #OklahomaTeachersWalkout. People applaud as they make their way into the crowd. A couple of fist bumps from the troopers as well. #WalkoutWatch pic.twitter.com/YlM8kguka1
— ShardaagrayKOKH (@FOX25Shardaa) April 10, 2018
— Lili Zheng (@lilizhengTV) April 10, 2018
In response to the continued strike, Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister announced on Monday that the state will extend the time period in which students can take standardized tests to lower the risk that schools would lose federal funding. The walkout happened at the same time that schools were beginning the process of administering tests. The superintendent is trying to prevent the loss of federal funding by telling schools they now have until April 27 to administer tests.
Still, teachers are continuing the walkout. A parent, Theresa Olds, told The Oklahoman that her daughter’s seat “is put together with duct tape” and added that “one of her teachers has three jobs.”
“I want her in school, but I want her in a fully-funded school,” Olds told the publication.