Oklahoma teachers' walkout to continue next week, group leader says

The Oklahoma Teachers Association will extend its five-day walkout into next week, group President Alicia Priest said...

Posted: Apr 7, 2018 2:39 PM
Updated: Apr 7, 2018 2:39 PM

The Oklahoma Teachers Association will extend its five-day walkout into next week, group President Alicia Priest said Friday.

Before the walkout can end, the legislature must pass a bill ending the capital gains deduction and the governor must veto the repeal of a hotel-motel tax bill, Priest said at a news conference.

More than 55 school districts take part in the walkout, including those in Oklahoma City and Tulsa

The state Senate voted on three measures that affect education funding

"We will be here Monday and Tuesday to get this done," Priest said.

Friday was the fifth consecutive day Oklahoma teachers packed the state Capitol as lawmakers discussed three measures that affect education funding.

More than 55 of the state's 500-plus school districts -- including those in Oklahoma City and Tulsa -- were closed Friday because of the walkout, CNN affiliate KOCO reported.

Three measures at stake

Teachers pressured lawmakers on three bills that saw action.

1. The Senate approved a bill amendment Friday that would require third-party retailers selling though internet outlets such as Amazon to collect sales tax from customers or inform them how much they owe in sales taxes. The House approved it earlier in the week. The bill could bring in about $20 million annually in education funding.

2. The Senate approved a "ball and dice" tax for gambling Friday. Senate leaders are saying it will not add any income to this year's education funding but Priest, speaking at the news conference, said it would help.

3. The Senate followed the House's lead and repealed a hotel and motel tax as part of Bill 1010XX. This action removes around $43 million from the education funding bill. Senators claim that they can make up that shortage through other revenue in the bill.

The Oklahoma Education Association says the motel tax, which it says would be paid by mostly nonresidents of the state, would add millions in revenue and opposes its repeal.

"We strongly disagree with this repeal and are asking senators to vote no on the repeal of the hotel/motel tax," Katherine Bishop, the group's vice president, said in a Facebook message Thursday. "This is a valuable revenue source that could provide much needed additional funding for our kids and is widely supported by the public."

The association wants the Senate to approve the first two measures -- the third-party internet sales-tax collection bill and the "ball and dice" tax.

If those two pass, "this would make a major victory for our students that would not have happened without the thousands of people who have come to the Capitol to make their voices heard," Bishop said. "To be clear, this is why we are here, because we all want to do more for our students."

'You don't mess with teachers'

Teachers in Oklahoma say more spending on education is needed, asserting that school facilities, equipment and textbooks are rundown, outdated or in short supply.

The educators and state government are at odds over salaries and funding. Gov. Mary Fallin recently signed a bill that raises the average teacher salary by $6,100, but the teachers' union wanted that figure to be $10,000.

The state ranks 49th in the nation in teacher salaries, according to the National Education Association, in a list that includes Washington, D.C. Only Mississippi and South Dakota rank lower than Oklahoma.

Fallin also signed a bill that raises education funding -- money for textbooks and the state-aid formula -- next fiscal year by $50 million; the teachers' union wanted that number to be higher.

Since Monday, teachers have swarmed the Capitol with signs and slogans.

"I think they thought we were not going to come out in the forces that we did, especially throughout the week ... but we're holding strong, and you don't mess with teachers when we're trying to fight for our kids," Amanda Girdler, a fourth-grade teacher, told CNN.

Threats against lawmakers investigated

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is investigating threats made against lawmakers they believe are related to the walkouts, according to Jessica Brown, a spokeswoman for the OSBI.

Brown declined to elaborate but did say investigators don't believe the threats are being made by teachers. At least three cases have been opened in the last two days.

Meanwhile in Kentucky ...

In Kentucky, teachers also protested in their state Capitol earlier this week in Frankfort.

They are upset over a controversial pension bill that state lawmakers passed last week.

The bill would affect new teachers and move them to a hybrid cash-balance plan rather than traditional pensions, and would limit new sick days that teachers can put toward their retirement. Senate Bill 151 is now at Gov. Matt Bevin's desk. Supporters of the bill said the changes are necessary to save the state's pension systems.

CNNMoney: How states are changing teacher pension plans

When teachers came to Frankfort on Monday to protest the pension overhaul, the state Legislature passed changes to the tax system called House Bill 366.

An analysis of that bill by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that the measure would bring a huge tax cut for the richest 1% of residents, while the biggest tax increase would affect those making less than $21,000 a year. A fellow with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy described it as "a tax cut for Kentucky's richest people paired with a tax increase for the middle class and the poor."

It's unclear whether Bevin will sign the bill.

West Lafayette
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 51°
Kokomo
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 47°
Rensselaer
Scattered Clouds
45° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 45°
Fowler
Scattered Clouds
45° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 45°
Williamsport
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 45°
Crawfordsville
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 48°
Frankfort
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 42°
Delphi
Clear
47° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 44°
Monticello
Clear
47° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 44°
Logansport
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 44°
Some more scattered rain with windy & cooler conditions.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 119066

Reported Deaths: 3612
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21563768
Lake10745324
Elkhart6734112
St. Joseph6679115
Allen6364205
Hamilton4965109
Vanderburgh384231
Hendricks2779124
Monroe267137
Tippecanoe259013
Johnson2362125
Clark226757
Porter222447
Delaware201162
Cass19589
Vigo187928
Madison171475
LaPorte151941
Warrick140743
Floyd140464
Howard133964
Kosciusko127117
Bartholomew119357
Marshall102124
Dubois100919
Boone99746
Grant96636
Hancock94843
Noble92932
Henry82226
Jackson77610
Wayne77314
Morgan73940
Shelby68329
Daviess68129
Dearborn67928
LaGrange64711
Clinton63414
Harrison59824
Putnam59011
Gibson5455
Knox5379
Lawrence51829
Montgomery51321
DeKalb49111
White48814
Decatur46139
Miami4394
Greene42936
Fayette42314
Jasper4032
Steuben3977
Scott39311
Posey3541
Sullivan33812
Jennings31712
Franklin31525
Clay3105
Ripley3108
Orange28724
Whitley2876
Carroll28013
Adams2773
Wabash2758
Starke2737
Washington2702
Wells2694
Spencer2683
Jefferson2523
Huntington2503
Fulton2462
Tipton22922
Randolph2238
Perry22213
Jay1920
Newton17411
Owen1711
Martin1690
Pike1691
Rush1584
Vermillion1320
Fountain1302
Blackford1223
Pulaski1141
Crawford1100
Parke1072
Brown1033
Benton860
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren411
Unassigned0227

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events