OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Two major pieces of legislation, aimed at providing funding and a tax credit for education, passed through the House floor on Wednesday.
House Bill 1935 would create the Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit Act.
If signed into law, it would provide a $5,000 tax credit per student for parents that send their children to private schools.
A $2,500 tax credit would be available for students attending homeschools, and for other educational purposes that could serve kids attending public schools.
Democrats were concerned on how the bill would be equitable.
Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, asked Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, if the tax credit would disproportionately impact black and brown students attending public schools in Tulsa.
Goodwin said the tax credit would be gifting private school students instead of their public school counterparts.
“I do not see it that way,” said Baker.
The Republican from Yukon is the Education Chair. She said HB 2775, the “sister bill,” would provide more funding to all public-school districts in the state.
Wednesday was Democrats’ last day to debate these bills before they moved over to the Senate.
Rep. John Waldron, D-Tulsa, expressed concerns about the homeschool aspect, asking if there were any checks in place to ensure the safety of students being homeschooled. Current law does not require homeschools to cooperate with the state when it comes to standards or curriculum. Waldron wanted to know if “welfare checks” would be added as a stipulation.
“The answer is, no,” said Baker.
Ultimately, HB 1935 passed the House with a 75-25 vote. Some Republicans joined their colleagues across the aisle.
Lawmakers stayed late debating HB 2775 which passed 78-20.
The bill would add $500 million to public school funding.
- $150 million would go to $2,500 pay raises to all teachers
- $300 million would go to all districts, with a cap at $2 million, for them to use at their discretion
- $50 million would go to districts that earn below-average revenue from local taxes
HB 1935 and HB 2775 are tied at the hip. If one fails the Senate, then both fail.