Teachers hope Oklahoma Education Association proposal prevents walkout

TULSA, Okla. -- Teachers hoped it wouldn't get to this point.

But they've spent the last few weeks creating a plan as the deadline for the walkout gets closer, and announced it at the Oklahoma Education Association headquarters Friday morning.

"We tried to choose ones that were most palatable for the whole, for 76 votes, right? Because not everybody is going to love everything. But compromise means I don't leave completely unhappy and I don't leave completely happy," said Shawna Mott-Wright with the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association.

The proposal is made up of nine different tax changes, with the biggest revenue coming from a $1.50 per pack increase on cigarettes, a five percent gross production tax on oil and gas, and eliminating the capital gains deduction for income taxes. Ultimately, educators want to show the money is there.

"When we talk about what's possible and what's not possible... sometimes I think what's lost is what do the people want. The government is supposed to be responsive to the citizens of the state," Union teacher Brendan Jarvis said.

Teachers said the were happy to create a plan for lawmakers, to do what they can to prevent a walkout from happening.

"We're one step closer to making sure we're in our classes teaching and our kids are in our classrooms learning on April 2nd, which is a huge relief to me.It should be a huge relief to communities across the state," Bixby teacher Jessica Jernegan said.

Now educators are waiting for a bill to make it to the floor. Lawmakers we've spoken with said they're holding out for legislation that meets the needs of a wide range of schools. OEA members said at this point, they're not going back.

"We're not extortionists. If anything, the legislators have been. They've been holding Oklahomans hostage for years," Mott-Wright said.

Teachers still believe the walkout will happen, but they remain hopeful that lawmakers are working overtime to find a solution.

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