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No clear plan in state legislature with teacher walkout looming

(KOKH/FILE)

The Oklahoma Legislature has yet to present a funding plan to keep teachers in school on April 2, though some lawmakers say there are ideas being tossed around behind closed doors.

"Doing the math, trying to get where OEA's at, there is funding available as along as it can get on the floor and get a vote, which is what we're trying to do,” said Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman.

The only proposal to surface is one devised by the Bartlesville School Board.

"I can't tell you any specific concrete plans right now,” said Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell. “But we are working across the aisles with the House and Senate trying to brainstorm some possibilities."

The Time is NOW proposal calls for a gross production tax increase to 5 percent for three years and 7 percent afterward, a $1 per pack cigarette tax increase, and motor fuel tax increases of 3 cents for gasoline and 6 cents for diesel fuel. Representative Forrest Bennett, D-Oklahoma City, believes it's a great start.

"I think that's a list of things we can negotiate around here, Bennett said. “I will not be surprised if the final plan looks like their plan or anyone else’s. But it is a great start."

There's also been talk of resurrecting a previous plan, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say if they didn't have the support needed then they won't have it now.

"I think we've seen with State Question 640, it's virtually impossible to pass a massive tax increase,” said Rep. Jeff Coody, R-Grandfield.

Finding that balance may be a challenge, but most believe it can be accomplished before April 1.

"I believe anything can be accomplished as long as it's got the power to an idea,” said Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-Oklahoma City. “Nothing is more powerful than an idea. And that time is right now."

House Majority Leader John Echols tells FOX 25 he has met with leaders in both the house and senate, as well as the governor. He says ideas are being thrown around but so far, there is no agreement.

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