Oklahoma House passes tax hikes to fund schools, teacher pay

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The Oklahoma House has passed a sweeping package of tax hikes aimed at funding a teacher pay raise and averting statewide school closures set to begin next week.

In a late-night session on Monday, the House voted 79-19 for the $447 million package that includes tax increases on cigarettes, motor fuel, hotel and motel lodging, and oil and gas production. The bill needed 76 votes to pass.

It now heads to the Senate, where its future is uncertain. Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz said Monday his members have several concerns with the plan.

The House's teacher pay plan would increase salaries by between 15 and 18 percent, for an average of $6,100 annually.

Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest called the proposal a "step in the right direction."

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