Oklahoma Teacher Walkout Will Continue Into Next Week

Apr 6, 2018

Update 4:22 p.m.

The state’s largest teachers union says the teacher walkout will continue next week despite the Senate passing two revenue-raising measures today. The Oklahoma Education Association also laid out new demands it says lawmakers must meet for teachers to return to the classroom.

The Senate passed two bills Friday to increase the amount of money going to education. One is the so-called “ball and dice” bill that would allow more table games in casinos, while the other would place a sales tax on Amazon marketplace vendors. Together could bring in about $40 million.

But many lawmakers say that money won’t flow to schools until next year because the governor has already approved the education budget.

The Senate also voted to repeal a $5 per-night hotel/motel tax, which was a small part of that education budget package. That tax would have brought in an estimated $47 million annually.

Now, the teachers union has laid out two new demands to end the walkout.

They say Governor Mary Fallin must use a veto to reinstate the motel tax the Senate just repealed and they want lawmakers to end some exemptions on capital gains taxes. Together, they could bring in an estimated $147 million annually.

Meanwhile, dozens of school districts have announced they will be closed on Monday, including Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Deer Creek, and Blanchard.

ORIGINAL POST

Teachers rallying at the Oklahoma Capitol are now pushing lawmakers to pass two measures that could increase funding for education.

One is the so-called “ball and dice” bill that would allow more table games in casinos, the other would place a sales tax on Amazon marketplace vendors.

Katherine Bishop, vice president of the state's largest teachers union, says passing these bills is crucial to ending the walkout.

"I'm not going to say that it gets us there, because until they pass that chamber, I’m not going to say that they get us there. But this could be a really positive step."

The Senate is expected to vote on the bills this morning.

Dozens of Oklahoma school districts are closed for the fifth straight day today, in a fight over education funding.