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Senate passes two funding bills but teachers say walkout will continue

Posted at 5:37 PM, Apr 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-06 18:37:48-04

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- House Bill 1019 was the first to pass the Senate on Friday.

Better known as the Amazon tax, it collects from online third party vendors and will put just under $20 million into the education fund in its first year. But some lawmakers suggested an alternative.

"Once you go down the path of compromise then we have the situation where we look after special interests at the expense of the average Oklahoman," Senator Josh Brecheen said.

Not wanting to create a tax, Brecheen proposed an amendment that instead would tax zero emission industries. Ultimately, senators voted for the option already on the table.

The second bill in the special session was House Bill 3375. The "ball and dice tax" passed to introduce and tax casino games, putting 88 percent of that funding toward schools.

Many senators spoke against it, saying there is no guarantee it will go into the general fund next year. But those in favor said there were limited options.

"We could give a zero dollar teacher pay raise, we can give zero to state employees, we could give zero to everything in education," Senator Greg Treat said.

All three bills now move to the governor's desk. The Oklahoma Education Association president said if the governor doesn't overturn the decision and bring back the hotel tax, the walkout will go on.

"Public education has lost over a billion dollars in that ten years. So they're re-investing and we are putting different sources of money in to fill that hole and it's going to take a while to fill it," Alicia Priest said.

Priest said the other demand for the OEA is the capital gains tax. For that, they would need the bill to pass the house.

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