(The Center Square) – Gov. Kevin Stitt offered what he called a “compromise” Friday to two education bills that have the House and Senate at odds.
The governor’s $800 million plan allocates $200 million to the Oklahoma Parental Choice tax credit. Households with less than $250,000 annually can receive a $5,000 per student credit the first year. The amount is increased to $6,000 per student in the second year and $6,500 in the third year.
House Minority Leader Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, said the plan moves “money away from public schools to private schools.”
“The Governor’s education plan prioritizes vouchers for private schools and reduces teacher pay raises and public classroom funding,” Munson said. “House and Senate Democrats have chosen to prioritize public school students and teachers because 95% of Oklahomans make the choice to attend a public school.”
Stitt’s plan has $300 million in the school funding formula, including a teacher pay raise plan that would give increases between $2,000 and $5,000. The remaining $300 million of the plan would go into the Oklahoma Student Fund.
The governor said his plan results from “months” of negotiations and meetings with the House and Senate.
“Oklahomans elected us as leaders to come together and get something done to improve education for every student in the state of Oklahoma and provide parents options,” Stitt said. “This plan does just that. I am calling on the House and Senate to come together and get this across the finish line.”
House Speaker Charles McCall said the House is reviewing Stitt’s plan.
“Upon initial review, the plan looks like a positive step in the right direction for education in Oklahoma,” McCall said in a statement. “As negotiations progress over the coming days, the House will continue to focus on passing an education plan that works for every student, every parent, every teacher and every school in the state.”
Two bills at the center of the debate, House Bill 2775 and House Bill 1935, were sent to a conference committee. The Senate appointed its conferees, according to the bills’ information. No conferees for the House are listed, but McCall said in a statement earlier this week he was ready to appoint them.
House and Senate Democrats released their education plan on Thursday. The $800 million plan did not include parental tax credits. Democrats are proposing teacher pay raises between $6,000 to $12,000 for all teachers and a 6% pay raise for support staff.