Bipartisan plan is a good start, work remains to be done
OEA supports the Bipartisan Oklahoma Plan announced by Oklahoma House Minority Leader Rep. Scott Inman (D-Del City) at a State Capitol press conference today, (pictured at right with OEA Vice President Katherine Bishop and Republican and Democrat OEA members, Mustang principal Shawna Carter and Edmond ACT President Chelsea Foo.)
The proposal still leaves work to be done in the 2018 regular legislative session to create a long-term plan that makes education employee salaries competitive with those in surrounding states.
The plan, which we urge lawmakers to consider when they reconvene special session on Monday, October 9, includes these revenue proposals:
$1.50 cigarette tax increase
6-cent motor vehicle tax increase
5% Gross Production Tax on oil and gas
5.25% income tax rate for annual incomes over $500,000
elimination of wind sales tax exemptions and 12 additional sales tax exemptions.
If approved, the increases are estimated to raise $260 million this year and $560 million next year, giving elected officials the opportunity to get it right by putting Oklahoma's budget on a sound footing for the future.
The proposal calls for a $2,000 raise for teachers, with $1,000 coming this year and $1,000 next year. While a move in the right direction, it falls far short of the raise they deserve and one that would make Oklahoma teacher compensation competitive with surrounding states. It also completely fails to address vital raises for Education Support Professionals, many of whom live below the poverty line.
"Today's plan gives us hope for setting a path to continued revenue growth," said OEA Vice President Katherine Bishop. "We believe the projected new revenue is a big step toward funding OEA's Together We're Stronger plan to raise teacher salaries by $10,000, ESP salaries by $5,000, restore public education funding and raise Oklahoma public employee salaries by $7,500. We will continue working with the Save Our State Coalition to make that plan a reality in the regular session next year."
ACTION: Attend a budget town hall
OEA is participating in a series of budget town hall meetings across Oklahoma. The discussions are open to anyone, so come learn from others and share your experiences. Three more town halls are scheduled for October:
Stillwater: Tuesday, Oct. 10 at the Stillwater Public Library, 1107 S Duck Street.
Okmulgee: Tuesday, Oct. 17 at the Mabrey Bank Community Room, 101 E 6th.
Durant: Tuesday, Oct. 24 at the Donald W. Reynolds Library and Community Center, 1515 W Main.
The budget town halls are an effort of the Save Our State Coalition, a group of dozens of community organizations and OEA locals. The coalition advocates for a sustainable state budget that fully funds state services.