(The Center Square) – The Oklahoma Senate passed a bill that would give parents with an income of $250,000 a $7,500 private school tax credit.
HB 1935 would give a $1,000 tax credit to parents that homeschool their children.
Gov. Kevin Stitt joined lawmakers and the American Federation for Children-Oklahoma on Thursday for a rally supporting the bill.
“In the strongest terms possible, American Federation for Children—Oklahoma urges lawmakers in both the House and the Senate to work together to pass some version of this legislation and send it to Governor Stitt for his signature,” the organization said in a statement. “Oklahoma’s students cannot afford to wait any longer. Lawmakers must put students first and craft a policy that will ensure that every child in the state of Oklahoma has access to the school of their choice regardless of income or geography.”
“Parents in Oklahoma want to fund students, not systems,” Stitt said.
Rep Melissa Provenzano D-Tulsa, said in a statement that she opposes the tax credits.
“The proposed vouchers, claiming to promote school choice, don’t provide funding for new students but merely cover current private school attendees,’ Provenzano said. “It’s a flawed approach that neglects the educational improvement of 700,000 Oklahoma public school students.”
The bill passed by a vote of 40-7 and is headed back to the House for approval.
The House also passed a separate bill creating a $500 million allocation to the Oklahoma State Board of Education for teacher pay raises. An additional $30 million was allocated in House Bill 2775 for a grant program that awards bonus pay to teachers and support employees.
The bill passed 46-2.
“My Senate colleagues and I passed measures that, when signed into law will make drastic improvements to public education, reward our teachers, empower parents to make the best choice for their kids and fund students, not systems,” said Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat in a statement.
The bill goes back to the House.
House Democrats said they want to separate the discussion on teacher pay raises and private school tax credits.
Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, and Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, introduced a bill increasing pay for first through fourth-year teachers by $6,000. The bill would increase teacher pay in increments of $2,000 up to a $12,000 annual pay raise for teachers with more than 15 years of experience.
“Teacher pay raises have consistently received bipartisan support,” said Rep. Trish Ranson, D-Stillwater. “Let’s capitalize on this backing and make Oklahoma attractive to top-tier teachers within our state and beyond.”
Senate Bill 482 is assigned to the Appropriations and Budget Education Subcommittee.