A teacher pay raise bill cleared the Senate, but its complementary revenue bill failed to pass, bringing Oklahoma closer to a possible teacher walkout next month.
Senate Bill 133 would have provided a 12.7 percent pay raise for Oklahoma teachers across the board. The bill passed, but its funding mechanism, House Bill 1033, failed to earn the 75 percent supermajority necessary to pass a spending bill.
“It was kind of heartbreaking,” Senator Frank Simpson, R-Springer, said. “We worked on that all week.”
Simpson said a clause in SB 133 renders it null and void if HB 1033 fails. HB 1033 failed by a vote of 34 to 12, bringing the legislature back to square one.  
“We’re still looking at some plans,” Simpson said. “We’ll devote a lot of our time next week to try to put together a plan for teachers.”
The measure failed as preparations for a teacher walkout on April 2 are underway. The Oklahoma Educators Association President Alicia Priest said in a video posted to Facebook Live on Thursday morning that the plan was unsatisfactory even before the vote that killed it.
“What we discovered was that the so-called ‘plan’ wasn’t much of a plan at all,” Priest said in the video. “In fact, it was nothing more than a political stunt that fell woefully short of the revenue we know is needed for our schools and our students.”
OEA has criticized the plan previously, stating that the 12.7 percent pay raise was well below the $10,000 teacher pay raise they were seeking, and did not address systemic issues with inadequate school funding.
“Our plan is a comprehensive $812 million plan,” OEA vice president Katherine Bishop said. “This one fell dramatically short. It did not put more money into our schools or revenue for our support employees, some of whom live below the poverty line, who don’t even make a living wage.”
Bishop called HB 1033 — that would have levied taxes on cigarettes, tobacco products, fuel and gross production — a short-sighted measure.
“How they were going to fund that would not be sustainable,” Bishop said. “We’d be right back where we started.”