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Today In The News
Teacher pay raise bill gives ‘false hope,’ Oklahoma Senate leader says: Legislative leaders appear to be far apart in their beliefs about whether a teacher pay raise will be funded this year. The Oklahoma House on Tuesday passed a pay raise bill, House Bill 1114, by Rep. Michael Rogers, R-Broken Arrow, with a total price tag of $316 million. It would phase in a teacher pay raise starting with $1,000 for fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1. A $1,000 raise would cost about $52 million, but the measure does not have a funding source. Additional raises would be $2,000 and then $3,000. [Tulsa World]
Budget Crisis Leaving Lawmakers At Odds: This week, state lawmakers passed a bill to give teachers raises without a plan to pay for it, and little was done to bridge the state’s nearly $900-million budget gap. “There has been no significant revenue streams brought before the Oklahoma House of Representatives in an attempt to fill a nearly $900-million budget hole,” said Representative Scott Inman (D) House Minority Leader. Senate Republicans say their GOP counterparts in the House are falsely raising teachers’ hopes. House Democrats suggested raising the gross production tax on oil and natural gas production. Oil execs say that’s not the answer, but they did lobby lawmakers to allow them to expand drilling. [News9] Lawmakers have asked for ‘crippling’ budget cut scenarios, state employees say [Fox25].
Cigarette tax debate burns on: Debate continues over Gov. Mary Fallin’s proposal to hike taxes on cigarettes, but both sides agree that doing so would lead some shoppers to jump state lines. A House bill that would implement the plan has passed out of committee and is waiting for a floor vote. Conservative organizations and industry representatives lament the measure for a handful of reasons, including the assertion that raising prices will shove some shoppers to neighboring states, all of which would have lower tax rates on cigarettes if the measure goes through. Economists and policy analysts who support the measure said there is no doubt some people will cross the borders for cheaper smokes. That’s not the question, they said. Scale is. [Journal Record] Considering the dire need for revenues to fix Oklahoma’s budget mess and the proven health benefits of taxes that discourage smoking, a cost-benefit analysis of HB 1841 shows low- and moderate-income families coming out ahead. [OK Policy]
continue reading In The Know: Teacher pay raise bill gives ‘false hope,’ Oklahoma Senate leader says