OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – House Speaker Charles McCall taking a measured approach on Thursday as the Senate passed amendments to his education bills, an action he pledged would “kill” legislation moving forward.
“We have room to negotiate with the Senate,” said McCall, R-Atoka, to reporters at a Capitol rally for parents.
Previously, the Speaker said his bills needed to be passed “as is,” otherwise the Senate would be voting to kill the legislation.
McCall still doesn’t support the proposals but will let the House Committee process play itself out.
“The policy in the House needs to include a win for every student, every parents, every school and every teacher in Oklahoma. The Senate’s plan falls short on all four fronts,” said McCall. “We’ll see what the Senate hands over and weigh it out on the merits of the ideas.”
On the Senate floor, two amendments were passed related to House Bill 1935 and House Bill 2775.
One is known as the tax credit for private school tuition.
The House originally planned to have $5,000 be available per student of each Oklahoma household and $2,500 for homeschool children.
But the Senate made adjustments, increasing the private school portion to $7,500 per student and lowering the homeschool portion to $1,000 per household.
The Senate also added a cap on income in order to access the $7,500 tax credit. Oklahoma students would not be eligible if their parents’ combined income is over $250,000.
“Income caps was one of the number one recommendations or requirements from my caucus members,” said Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-OKC.
Speaker McCall was most vocal against the income cap, saying it does not benefit all Oklahoma families.
The second amendment passed by the Senate was for HB2775, the funding plan for public schools across the state.
$248 million would go towards increasing the teacher pay schedule:
- $3,000 for 0-4 years of teaching
- $4,000 for 5-9 years of teaching
- $5,000 for 10-14 years of teaching
- $6,000 for 15+ years of teaching
For teachers that meet certain criteria, an additional $30 million is allocated to districts for another pay increase.
“As a former teacher I witnessed and watched what happens when teachers who are your best do not get the best,” said Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant.
These bills passed on the Senate floor and will head to the House.
Speaker McCall said he will give committees an extra week to look through proposals coming from the Senate.
Other plans from the Senate include:
- Paid maternity leave for teachers
- School safety
- Oklahoma Teacher Corps