Stalemate continues over Oklahoma education bills
(The Center Square) – A bill providing school choice tax credits for parents sits in the House of Representatives, and that’s where it will stay until the Senate passes a public education funding…
(The Center Square) – A bill providing school choice tax credits for parents sits in the House of Representatives, and that’s where it will stay until the Senate passes a public education funding plan, House Speaker Charles McCall said.
It’s part of a weeks-long showdown between the House and Senate chambers at odds over teacher raises, student funding and private school tax credits.
HB 1934 would give larger tax credits to families with less household income. The largest, $7,500, would go to students in households with an income of less than $75,000 a year. The bill also gives homeschool parents a $1,000 tax credit per child. The House passed it with Senate amendments on Tuesday afternoon, but McCall said he is not sending it to the governor just yet.
“The Senate has made it clear that their priority was a tax credit bill that reflected the will of their members,” McCall said in a statement. “We have passed that and are now asking them to work with our members on funding public schools, particularly in rural areas, a priority for our chamber. We are calling on the Senate to either pass the governor’s compromise plan or move off their hardline position and come back to the negotiation table on a public education plan that works for every school in the state.”
Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat fired back, calling the House plan “a ridiculous and shameful notion that segregates children.”
“The plan we sent them treats every student the same no matter what their zip code is,” Treat said. “Their plan with the Oklahoma Student Fund is to disproportionately give kids in certain areas (for instance, Atoka Public Schools) more money than all others. The Senate is simply saying – treat every kid the same.”
Treat asked for a public meeting with Gov. Kevin Stitt, McCall and Education Secretary Ryan Walters.
Stitt has previously backed the House’s efforts to the point of vetoing some unrelated Senate bills last week. He praised the House for passing the plan on Tuesday afternoon.
“With the House’s action today, we have made transformative change to improve education outcomes for Oklahoma students,” Stitt said. “I am grateful to all members of the Legislature who have stood with parents and gotten school choice across the finish line.”
House Democrats criticized the bill and the House’s stance.
“House Republican leaders will hold on to the bill to use HB1934 and the amendments made by Republican senators as a bargaining tool to get what they want—which is millions of taxpayer dollars going to fund private schools,” said House Democratic Leader Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City.