'If not now, then when?' OEA releases proposal to fund education, pay raises

Teachers, public employees and students all spoke as the Oklahoma Education Association unveiled a proposal to restore education funding and provide pay raises to teachers and state employees. (KOKH/Anthony West)

OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) - Teachers, public employees and students all joined together Friday as the Oklahoma Education Association released a proposal they say would restore education funding and bring raises to teachers and state employees.

The group says their plan raises $906 million for education funding and raises they have demanded from lawmakers. The association has given legislators until April 1 or they will call for teachers to walk out of school.

The plan brings in $177 million through income tax changes by capping itemized deductions, restoring the earned income tax credit and eliminating the capital gains deduction.

Moore High School sophomore Hope Davis spoke at the announcement.

"This pay raise would better the quality of my education by better teacher training, increasing the standards for substitute teachers, better school security and an overall better atmosphere," Davis said.

The group would also like the gross production tax to be placed at five percent on all new wells. The plan estimates they could raise $22 million by allowing ball and dice games in the state.

Deer Creek High School English teacher Dionne Liebl thanked legislators who were trying to find a solution.

"We as Oklahomans must realize that public education is everyone's concern," Liebl said.

The largest chunk of revenue, $222.9 million, comes through proposed tobacco taxes. The proposal would bring about a $1.50 per pack tax on increase on cigarettes, the taxing of little cigars as cigarettes and 10 percent levy on chewing and smokeless tobacco.

The rest of the revenue comes from the following source:

  • $46.2 million from a $5 per room hotel/motel tax
  • $10.9 million from "alcohol taxes"
  • $62 million from two-year car tags
  • $58 million from sales tax collection changes
  • $20 million wind tax on generation

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