By Sahid Fawaz
Teachers in Oklahoma have 447 million reasons to be happy today.
“In what initially seemed to be a repeat of previous votes on revenue raising measures, the senate narrowly approved a funding package to help pay for teacher pay raises in the state Wednesday evening.
The $447 million revenue package, passed by a 36-10, vote now goes to the governor’s desk for signing.
Requiring a three-fourths majority to pass tax increases, the senate vote stalled two votes shy at 34, with Sen. Anastasia Pittman removing her yes vote, albeit temporarily. Three senators weren’t present, including Oklahoma City mayor-elect David Holt, R-Oklahoma City. As Holt returned to the capitol to cast a yes vote, bringing the total to 35, he quickly left the floor. Moments later he returned, arm-in-arm with Pittman, as the two walked to her desk and cast the deciding vote . . .
The Oklahoma Public Employees Association, along with the Oklahoma Education Association, still plan on walking out Monday, calling for pay raises for state workers.
President of the Oklahoma Education Association Alicia Priest released the following statement on Facebook Wednesday evening saying ‘The passage of HB1010xx is a truly historic moment in Oklahoma. This movement, fueled by the courageous acts of teachers, parents, bus drivers, paraprofessionals, custodians, and community members has forced this legislature to finally act. This historic investment of half a billion dollars will benefit a generation of Oklahoma students and will be felt in every community across this state. While this is major progress, this investment alone will not undo a decade of neglect. Lawmakers have left funding on the table that could be used immediately to help Oklahoma students. There is still work to do to get this legislature to invest more in our classrooms. That work will continue Monday when educators descend on the Capitol.'”
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