Taxes Raised to Avert Teacher Walkout

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers gave their approval to the biggest tax gain in approximately twenty years. The March 26 night approval was given to stop a teacher walkout. If such a walkout happens, it would cripple the state. This new tax package will raise about $445 million as revenues. Lawmakers can now provide the necessary approval to offer classroom teachers an average pay increase of $6,100. This comes at a critical time when educators plan to compel school closures related to concerns about funding and also compensation. This measure also offers the funding for raises to the school support staff and public employees. The amount of the raise will vary.

Tax jump

Supporters of this tax assert that the package will increase the gross production tax imposed on gas and also oil drillers to about five percent on the wells. The gasoline tax of the state will jump by three cents. The diesel tax will be upped by six cents. The tax imposed on cigarettes will go up by one dollar per pack. The motel and also hotel occupancy tax will be raised by five dollars per night. Lawmakers have the intention to increase revenues by permitting casinos to install ball games and dice games. Another intention is to restrict the number of itemized deductions the people of the state can claim.

Democrats are predictably happy. State Representative Cory Williams, a Democrat elected from Stillwater, said that the tax package has improved from a 30 to 1 regressive tax system to 2 to 1 progressive system. He said that he can give support to that. He added that this decision was given after a long period of struggle. House Lawmakers had previously rejected a number of packages before this as every one of them fell much short of the three-fourths majority required by Oklahoman law to increase taxes.

Teachers' salary increase

Teachers have said that they will force schools to close starting April 2 unless the lawmakers met a complete list of demands which includes $6,000 raise for the teachers and also raises for the public employees and support staff. Money must also be allocated for extra classroom spends. There must also be increases in the healthcare appropriations. The package proposed by Oklahoma Education Association will cost the state about $812 million within the first year. The amount of money needed will be almost $1.5 billion over the span of three years. As per the House plan, the certified teachers' salary will be raised from the present $32,600 to $37,759- a raise of approximately $5,000.

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