(The Center Square) – The Oklahoma Senate passed an amended school choice bill late Thursday as it continues its showdown with the House and Gov. Kevin Stitt.
House Bill 1934 would give tax credits that parents can use to send their children to the school of their choice. The bill has tiered income requirements.
Parents with a household income of $75,000 or less would receive $7,500, the largest credit. The smallest credit, $5,000, would go to household incomes of $250,000 or less.
The vote by the Senate comes a day after the House passed House Bill 1935, which does not include income limits. The tax credits would begin at $5,000 for the 2023 tax year before reaching $6,500 in tax year 2025.
Stitt has vetoed 20 unrelated Senate bills and said he would continue to do so until the Senate and House reach a compromise on an education plan and tax cuts.
“Therefore, until the people of Oklahoma have a tax cut, until every teacher in the state gets the pay raise they deserve, until parents get a tax credit to send their child to the school of their choice, I am vetoing this unrelated policy and will continue to veto any and all legislation authored by Senators who have not stood with the people of Oklahoma and supported this plan,” Stitt said in his veto message.
Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat said the chamber would not be bullied.
“Bullying does not work in this building,” Treat said. “The Senate has been bullied or attempted to be bullied throughout this entire session, both from our counterparts across the rotunda when they stood up on week two and said, ‘nothing can be changed in these two bills that would be acceptable.’ We are being bullied again by the executive branch that is vetoing bills with a veto message that simply says, ‘any senator that does go in line and get in line with his plan verbatim will have their bills vetoed, not because the merit or lack thereof on that bill, but because of petty disagreements in trying to bully this body into a position. We will not be bullied.”
HB 1934 passed 36-10. Democrats said they oppose school choice tax credits and have introduced their $800 million education plan, including raises for all teachers and a 6% raise for classified employees.
Senate Democrats said Thursday that the impasse between the two houses is not best for the public.
“We are seeing day-after-day, ‘lose, lose’ scenarios,” said Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City. “There’s no win here.”