Oklahoma Supreme Court hears teacher funding debate - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Oklahoma Supreme Court hears teacher funding debate

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Teachers protested at the Oklahoma Capitol for higher wages. (KFOR) Teachers protested at the Oklahoma Capitol for higher wages. (KFOR)

After Oklahoma educators staged a two-week walkout, state lawmakers agreed to an average $6,100 annual boost in teacher pay.

But there continue to be questions about how Oklahoma will fund those pay hikes.

Last month, Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite filed a petition to challenge the plan outlined in House Bill 1010XX for new taxes on fuel, oil and cigarettes to pay for the teacher salary increases.

If the OTU proposal known as State Question 799 gets enough signatures, the tax increase decision would go back to a vote of the people. Leaders of the group say it should've been that way in the first place.

But on Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court heard arguments from challengers to the petition. 

"The language in the veto referendum is confusing and misleading, and is a direct attack on funding for our students," Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest said in a written statement. "We are confident the State Supreme Court will see how poorly the petition is written, declare it invalid and strike it from the ballot."

OTU said while it favors higher pay for teachers, they want lawmakers to find the funds elsewhere.

When the House passed the bill in March, the OEA said the proposal was a step in the right direction.

Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill late March.

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