Oklahoma teachers' walkout to continue next week, group leader says

The Oklahoma Teachers Association will extend its five-day walkout into next week, group President Alicia Priest said...

Posted: Apr 7, 2018 1:39 PM
Updated: Apr 7, 2018 1:39 PM

The Oklahoma Teachers Association will extend its five-day walkout into next week, group President Alicia Priest said Friday.

Before the walkout can end, the legislature must pass a bill ending the capital gains deduction and the governor must veto the repeal of a hotel-motel tax bill, Priest said at a news conference.

More than 55 school districts take part in the walkout, including those in Oklahoma City and Tulsa

The state Senate voted on three measures that affect education funding

"We will be here Monday and Tuesday to get this done," Priest said.

Friday was the fifth consecutive day Oklahoma teachers packed the state Capitol as lawmakers discussed three measures that affect education funding.

More than 55 of the state's 500-plus school districts -- including those in Oklahoma City and Tulsa -- were closed Friday because of the walkout, CNN affiliate KOCO reported.

Three measures at stake

Teachers pressured lawmakers on three bills that saw action.

1. The Senate approved a bill amendment Friday that would require third-party retailers selling though internet outlets such as Amazon to collect sales tax from customers or inform them how much they owe in sales taxes. The House approved it earlier in the week. The bill could bring in about $20 million annually in education funding.

2. The Senate approved a "ball and dice" tax for gambling Friday. Senate leaders are saying it will not add any income to this year's education funding but Priest, speaking at the news conference, said it would help.

3. The Senate followed the House's lead and repealed a hotel and motel tax as part of Bill 1010XX. This action removes around $43 million from the education funding bill. Senators claim that they can make up that shortage through other revenue in the bill.

The Oklahoma Education Association says the motel tax, which it says would be paid by mostly nonresidents of the state, would add millions in revenue and opposes its repeal.

"We strongly disagree with this repeal and are asking senators to vote no on the repeal of the hotel/motel tax," Katherine Bishop, the group's vice president, said in a Facebook message Thursday. "This is a valuable revenue source that could provide much needed additional funding for our kids and is widely supported by the public."

The association wants the Senate to approve the first two measures -- the third-party internet sales-tax collection bill and the "ball and dice" tax.

If those two pass, "this would make a major victory for our students that would not have happened without the thousands of people who have come to the Capitol to make their voices heard," Bishop said. "To be clear, this is why we are here, because we all want to do more for our students."

'You don't mess with teachers'

Teachers in Oklahoma say more spending on education is needed, asserting that school facilities, equipment and textbooks are rundown, outdated or in short supply.

The educators and state government are at odds over salaries and funding. Gov. Mary Fallin recently signed a bill that raises the average teacher salary by $6,100, but the teachers' union wanted that figure to be $10,000.

The state ranks 49th in the nation in teacher salaries, according to the National Education Association, in a list that includes Washington, D.C. Only Mississippi and South Dakota rank lower than Oklahoma.

Fallin also signed a bill that raises education funding -- money for textbooks and the state-aid formula -- next fiscal year by $50 million; the teachers' union wanted that number to be higher.

Since Monday, teachers have swarmed the Capitol with signs and slogans.

"I think they thought we were not going to come out in the forces that we did, especially throughout the week ... but we're holding strong, and you don't mess with teachers when we're trying to fight for our kids," Amanda Girdler, a fourth-grade teacher, told CNN.

Threats against lawmakers investigated

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is investigating threats made against lawmakers they believe are related to the walkouts, according to Jessica Brown, a spokeswoman for the OSBI.

Brown declined to elaborate but did say investigators don't believe the threats are being made by teachers. At least three cases have been opened in the last two days.

Meanwhile in Kentucky ...

In Kentucky, teachers also protested in their state Capitol earlier this week in Frankfort.

They are upset over a controversial pension bill that state lawmakers passed last week.

The bill would affect new teachers and move them to a hybrid cash-balance plan rather than traditional pensions, and would limit new sick days that teachers can put toward their retirement. Senate Bill 151 is now at Gov. Matt Bevin's desk. Supporters of the bill said the changes are necessary to save the state's pension systems.

CNNMoney: How states are changing teacher pension plans

When teachers came to Frankfort on Monday to protest the pension overhaul, the state Legislature passed changes to the tax system called House Bill 366.

An analysis of that bill by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that the measure would bring a huge tax cut for the richest 1% of residents, while the biggest tax increase would affect those making less than $21,000 a year. A fellow with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy described it as "a tax cut for Kentucky's richest people paired with a tax increase for the middle class and the poor."

It's unclear whether Bevin will sign the bill.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 149940

Reported Deaths: 3779
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10097104
Hinds9984199
Harrison7116110
Jackson6360119
Rankin5588103
Lee509195
Madison4799106
Forrest383186
Jones357688
Lauderdale3496147
Lafayette326051
Washington3179107
Lamar291550
Oktibbeha245462
Bolivar241384
Lowndes237364
Panola222350
Neshoba2206118
Marshall217250
Leflore205590
Pontotoc199928
Monroe198177
Sunflower191655
Lincoln190865
Warren176857
Tate169851
Union167325
Copiah164140
Pike162658
Yazoo156039
Scott154829
Itawamba152935
Pearl River152167
Alcorn151328
Coahoma150543
Simpson148353
Prentiss146230
Adams141950
Grenada140945
Leake134944
Holmes130861
George125524
Tippah125230
Covington123439
Winston122224
Hancock121139
Wayne117923
Marion116646
Attala113034
Tishomingo109442
Chickasaw107632
Newton105629
Tallahatchie97027
Clay91327
Clarke90553
Jasper82822
Stone77014
Walthall76928
Calhoun75513
Montgomery74525
Carroll72415
Lawrence71814
Smith71316
Yalobusha71327
Noxubee71017
Perry67026
Tunica61019
Greene60322
Claiborne58616
Jefferson Davis57017
Amite54014
Humphreys53619
Benton49318
Quitman4927
Webster44314
Kemper43618
Wilkinson39822
Jefferson35211
Franklin3395
Choctaw3357
Sharkey30917
Issaquena1164
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 244993

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson32314500
Mobile19859361
Madison13223148
Tuscaloosa13049154
Montgomery12342236
Shelby1031577
Baldwin873398
Lee775766
Morgan662650
Calhoun6301119
Etowah627666
Marshall627255
Houston525638
DeKalb485536
Cullman439442
Limestone425145
St. Clair419555
Lauderdale407854
Elmore406864
Walker3657111
Talladega351454
Jackson320423
Colbert311942
Blount292240
Autauga273542
Franklin252633
Coffee245415
Dale232654
Dallas226232
Chilton223438
Russell22193
Covington218934
Escambia198331
Chambers176850
Tallapoosa176391
Pike158614
Clarke158419
Marion140236
Winston133023
Lawrence127936
Pickens123518
Geneva12218
Marengo121524
Bibb117917
Barbour117310
Butler116541
Randolph102921
Cherokee102224
Hale97031
Clay91924
Fayette91616
Washington91219
Henry8546
Lowndes79929
Monroe78911
Cleburne77214
Macon73722
Crenshaw71130
Bullock69619
Perry6886
Conecuh68414
Lamar6798
Wilcox63518
Sumter58122
Greene42618
Choctaw42213
Coosa3444
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 46°
Columbus
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 46°
Oxford
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 45°
Starkville
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 42°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather