Teacher pay raise fails in Oklahoma amid looming strike

The Associated Press
AP and PDN Staff

(AP) — A plan to give Oklahoma schoolteachers a pay raise has fallen short in the Oklahoma Senate after a package of tax increases to pay for it couldn't get enough votes.

Amid a looming teacher strike, the Senate late Wednesday voted on a series of bills, including one to give teachers a nearly 13 percent, across-the-board pay hike.

But Democrats who say the revenue plan is inadequate and a handful of fiercely anti-tax Republicans joined to prevent the bill from getting the three-fourth's vote needed to pass a tax increase. It included tax hikes on cigarettes, motor fuel, and oil and natural gas production.

Prior to voting, the Oklahoma Education Association posted this to Facebook:

" ... the Senate is considering voting on HB1033xx, a plan for a $5,000 raise for teachers and $2,500 for state employees. Nothing for support professionals, nothing for our classrooms, and no discussion of further raises to get us to our $10K demand. This is NOT the significant funding increase our schools need and our students deserve. Moreover, funding this plan means taking a revenue stream intended for health care."

After the vote, OEA followed up with: "Thank you to all of you who contacted your legislators tonight to help defeat a revenue plan in the Senate that simply wasn't good enough. We have waited too long and fought too hard to settle for a plan that can't meet the needs of our students. Until tomorrow."

Oklahoma public school teachers have threatened a statewide strike beginning April 2 over demands for better pay and more funding for schools.