teacher pay

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about the latest fix for the $215M shortfall in the budget made up with cash reserves and cuts to state agencies and the special elections this week where Republicans managed to hold on to two seats, but lost one in Tulsa.

Updated: November 8, 2017 at 6:01 p.m.

After nearly four hours of floor debate and questions, a budget package that would have filled most of the state’s estimated $215 million budget shortfall and provide raises to teachers and some state employees has failed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

House Bill 1054 would have raised the production tax rate on oil wells from 2 to 4 percent and increased taxes on cigarettes, fuel, and low point beer.

Oklahoma State Senate

In the ongoing budget saga at the Oklahoma State Capitol, there was some bipartisan movement on Monday in the state Senate. Lawmakers have already agreed to increase the cigarette tax and fuel taxes, but the sticking point has been the gross production tax on oil and gas wells.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would decrease the tax discounts on oil and gas wells after failing to come to another agreement. That bill only required a simple majority (51 percent) of lawmakers to vote in favor.

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Five weeks after calling a special session, Gov. Mary Fallin announced Monday that Republicans in the state House and Senate have reached a budget deal to fill a $215 million shortfall.

Updated Oct. 23 at 1:43 p.m. with Democratic response.

Fallin said the agreement would increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack of cigarettes, hike the motor fuel tax by 6 cents, and change the alcoholic beverage tax. It would also provide a $3,000 teacher pay raise, a $1,000 pay raise for some state employees, and restore the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Flickr / alamosbasement

The state set a new record today for the number of emergency certified teachers in Oklahoma classrooms.

The State Board of Education approved 574 new emergency certifications, bringing this year’s total to about 1,400.

Last year, there were 1,160 emergency certified teachers in Oklahoma. Five years ago there were 32.

Schools ask for permission to hire emergency certified teachers after proving they could not find anyone with traditional qualifications.

Flickr / wfryer

A new survey shows what many state leaders feared: Oklahoma’s teacher shortage is getting worse.

As of August 1, there were still 500 unfilled teaching positions across the state. That's according to a survey conducted by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.

Shawn Hime, the Executive Director of the OSSBA, says his agency talked to more than 300 school districts in order to complete the survey.

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About exactly a year ago we brought you the story of Shawn Sheehan, Oklahoma's 2016 Teacher of the Year.

At the time, he and about 40 other educators were running for office in the state, wanting to make a change because, as Sheehan puts it, lawmakers weren't prioritizing education. Funding for schools in the state has been cut tremendously over the past decade and teachers in Oklahoma are some of the lowest paid in the country.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

Residents of Oklahoma City will soon be asked if they support raising their own income tax, in order to increase funding for city schools.

Oklahoma City Councilman Ed Shadid, along with other concerned community members, announced this morning they will soon circulate two initiative petitions.

Each petition will seek a 0.25% increase in the income tax rate. If the group gathers enough petition signatures, the measures will go to a vote of the people in a special election.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

The promise of a teacher pay raise seemed real this year, like lawmakers were actually going to get it done. But, they didn’t. And so, once again, some teachers are packing their bags in search of more money elsewhere. However, one teacher is asking them to stay in Oklahoma, and keep fighting.

This year’s legislative session began with high hopes of a teacher pay raise.

Governor Mary Fallin stressed the need for one in her February State of the State speech, and lawmakers put multiple pay raise plans on the table.

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