Okla. Politicians to Striking Teachers: Keep Striking

Legislature isn't exactly leaping to meet demands as strike enters its 8th day
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 11, 2018 9:55 AM CDT
Okla. Politicians to Striking Teachers: Buzz Off
Kids chalk a message in support of the teacher walkout at the state Capitol as protests continue over school funding on Tuesday in Oklahoma City.   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

A top GOP lawmaker said Tuesday that the Oklahoma Legislature has no plans to bow to striking teachers' demands to eliminate a capital gains tax break as a way to end a walkout in its second week. Rep. John Pfeiffer, a House majority floor leader, also said lawmakers are unlikely to consider any other major revenue bills this session, reports the AP. Gov. Mary Fallin also defied striking teachers on Tuesday, signing a bill to repeal a tax on hotel stays that teachers had called on her to veto. Fallin encouraged lawmakers to turn their attention to other issues. The actions of the governor and Legislature appeared to indicate that the confrontation has reached a stalemate. The state's largest teachers union has called for the walkout to continue until the Legislature comes up with more money for schools. Several districts have announced plans to close Wednesday for an eighth day.

Teachers descended on the Capitol again Tuesday, but the crowds were notably smaller. The House and Senate this week returned to more routine work, holding committee meetings and considering bills unrelated to revenue or education. The GOP-led Legislature has approved tax increases on cigarettes, motor fuel, and oil and gas production to generate about $450 million, with the bulk going to teacher raises. Pfeiffer said many House Republicans agreed to vote for the package only if the capital gains deduction remained. "We've accomplished a whole lot, and I just don't know how much more we can get done this session," said Pfeiffer. The Legislature approved $2.9 billion for public schools, an increase of nearly 20% over last year. Much of the new money was earmarked for teacher raises of about $6,100 on average. But teachers say the increase is not enough after a decade without raises.

(Read more teachers' strike stories.)

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