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Today In The News
Oklahoma teacher pay plan absent at Capitol deadline: The Oklahoma Legislature could head home for the weekend without advancing a bill to increase teacher salaries. Despite an important Thursday deadline, the Oklahoma Senate did not schedule a hearing on House Bill 1114, which would incrementally raise the minimum teacher salary schedule by $6,000 over three years. The Senate’s teacher pay plan that would increase salaries by 4 percent languished in a House committee without a hearing. There’s still time, though. House and Senate leadership can introduce legislation at any time, meaning that lawmakers can adopt a teacher pay plan if an agreement is reached [NewsOK].
Oklahoma Struggles to Pay for Schools After Slashing Taxes: Four years ago, Oklahoma’s oil patch was booming, unemployment was falling and state lawmakers were debating what to do with $200 million in surplus revenue. Republicans who control state government successfully pushed to reduce the state’s top income tax rate, slash the oil and gas production tax rate from 7 percent to 2 percent and give more tax incentives to industry. But the boom ended and the money dried up. Now the once-unwavering confidence in the wisdom of lower taxes has given way to a growing panic over how to pay for basic services such as schools, health care and public safety [Associated Press]. Oklahoma’s per pupil funding of the state aid formula for public schools has fallen 26.9 percent after inflation between FY 2008 and FY 2017. These continue to be the deepest cuts in the nation, and Oklahoma’s lead is growing [OK Policy].
Expanding shortfall in state tax revenues creating uncertainty for schools, state superintendent says: State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said a shortfall in one of the main state revenue sources for public schools will easily top $100 million before the end of June — and the impact of that loss is widely misunderstood. Hofmeister addressed the topic among others at Public Radio Tulsa’s “Give and Take” on education event, held Thursday evening at the Central Library. “Schools are feeling like they’re in free fall right now,” Hofmeister said. “Just for education, we have lost $82 million since February, and that will exceed $100 million by June.” [Tulsa World]
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