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 The Senate followed the House's lead and repealed a hotel and motel tax as part of Bill 1010XX.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: 319511

Reported Deaths: 7368
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22267267
Hinds20657421
Harrison18401317
Rankin13868282
Jackson13681248
Madison10239224
Lee10052176
Jones8458167
Forrest7824153
Lauderdale7257242
Lowndes6501150
Lamar634088
Lafayette6303121
Washington5419136
Bolivar4836133
Panola4665110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4600147
Marshall4572105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425073
Union415677
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386487
Leflore3515125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3368111
Alcorn324272
Scott319774
Yazoo314171
Adams305886
Itawamba305078
Copiah299666
Coahoma298484
Simpson298189
Tippah291868
Prentiss283661
Leake271774
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231268
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187754
Stone187433
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174032
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry126738
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman81916
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69432
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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