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OEA: Teacher walkout will continue on Monday

OKLAHOMA CITY - The teacher walkout will continue on Monday, association officials announced Friday.

Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, said the walkout will continue until the Oklahoma Legislature removes the capital gains exemption and Governor Mary Fallin vetoes the repeal of the hotel/motel tax.

"We will continue to advocate for funding for public education and filling the hole the Legislature has made over the ten years," said Priest. "28 percent cuts and so that's what we're advocating for."

On Friday, the Oklahoma Senate passed three bills: marketplace fairness act ('Amazon' bill), 'ball and dice' bill, and the repeal of the hotel/motel tax.

  • HB1012XX: Repeals 'hotel/motel' tax which was signed into law as part of a $447 million tax increase
  • HB1019XX: ('Amazon bill'): Requires online retailers like Amazon to collect and turn over sales taxes from sellers
  • HB3375: Allows tribal casinos to offer 'ball-and-dice' games, like craps and roulette

According to Senate leaders, the 'Amazon bill' would dedicate an estimated $20 million to educational funding. In 2016, Gov. Fallin signed the Retail Protection Act, which required online retailers that did not have a physical presence in Oklahoma to either voluntarily collect sales tax or send customers a notice at the end of the year to pay the sales and use tax  later.

The budget for education has already been set for $2.9 billion.

"Historic week. Friday and we’re still here. That probably doesn’t happen until last couple weeks of session, but we felt that it was important here today to get those bills finished up," Senate Pro-Tem Mike Schulz, R-Altus.

Before HB1019XX passed the Senate floor on Friday by a vote of 42 to 2, Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate called for the bill to be amended completely by terminating existing wind energy tax credits; however, it was not successful.

"Members, why has this bill not been out here? Why do I have to go and amend Title 68 to get this bill on the floor?" questioned Coalgate. "Because we continue this process of preferring a few at the expense of the many."

The 'ball and dice' bill is projected to generate $24 million, but Senate majority floor leader Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma said that will go into the 1017 fund for the Senate to appropriate next session for Fiscal Year 2020.

"It will not add any into the Fiscal Year 2019 budget, to the best of my knowledge of the way I understand it working. 12 percent of it comes to the general revenue fund, of which we can use 95 percent of it for our budgeting for next year," said Treat.

Senate minority floor leader John Sparks said just because there are no concrete numbers for the bill, does not mean it should not have moved forward.

"We will have revenue added to the budget. If nothing else, it will mitigate a hole moving forward. It’s just that they can’t certify it to set the budget numbers on that," said Sparks.

Earlier this week, News 4 spoke with House Majority Floor leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City who said the capital gains bill would not move forward this session. He told us Tuesday it was an issue that had not been fully vetted.

"It’s hard to imagine a more volatile funding source other than capital gains and to have an entire program that is based on HB1010, 50 percent of the revenue came from oil and gas. And, then to attempt to increase that with another volatile funding source like capital gains, it's just bad public policy," explained Echols.

Priest said they anticipate the walkout will continue into next week.

"When you have 30-40,000 thousand constituents here a day, a week and you don't listen to them? Who are you listening to?" she questioned.

Treat said he does not expect the $2.9 billion for education to be modified.