Oklahoma lawmakers mull using trust funds for teacher raises

   OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma lawmakers are looking into giving teachers pay raises or bonuses without raising taxes by tapping into $2.4 billion in trust funds managed by the Commissioners of the Land Office.

   Discussions of pay raises and bonuses come as the state's teachers are threatening to strike if $6,000 pay raises and additional funding for education aren't approved by April 1.

   About $1.7 billion of the land office's funds is held in trust for common schools. The Oklahoman reports that lawmakers are a seeking a way to use those funds annually without violating the Oklahoma Constitution.

   Commissioners of the Land Office Secretary Harry Birdwell says the federal Enabling Act and the state constitution's rules allow the funds to grow, but the Oklahoma Constitution states they "shall never be diminished."

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   Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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