60 In 6 Plan Explained

"Gina" is a teacher, member of the Professional Oklahoma Educators union, (competitor to the OEA), and shared the plan her union supports for teachers.  She, and the POE, hope the "60 in 6" plan will solve the problem of teacher pay.  Here is what she sent me to explain the plan.  By the way the OEA has rejected it. 

History – I was a history teacher.  There is a reason we learn history.  One reason is you need to know your past to know who you really are, your roots and the second reason is to not repeat the same mistakes again.  That is why the military strategists study past battles/wars, so they do not repeat the same mistakes.

Let’s look at Oklahoma’s fairly recent history as to what caused us to be where we are today.

In April of 1990, Sandy Garrett was the Secretary of Education for Republican Governor Henry Bellmon.  The legislature was overwhelmingly Democrat.  The teachers walked out because the legislature rejected a $230,000,000 education package.  Governor Bellmon supported the education package but not the strike.  It required a half-cent sales tax increase as well as increased corporate and personal income taxes.  The bill’s reforms included smaller class sizes, higher teacher pay, statewide curriculum standards, school district consolidation.

 The measure was controversial. Because of its funding and the tax increase on businesses.  Shortly after the bill became law, a business group, upset by the tax increase, attempted to repeal the law.  HB 1017 did pass by one vote because the Speaker left the voting board open for four days.  HB 1017was for $560 million  over 5 years.

2.  The voters spoke.  Later that year, the voters limited terms for these legislators.  Voters were angry over their taxes being raised and having the same politicians remain in office for too long, it seemed the politicians weren’t listening to the voters.  The voters showed the politicians who were in charge.

3.  In 1992, the voters also spoke and they were tired of their taxes being raised, so they passed SQ 640.  This law would forever change us as a state, it stated that all revenue bills raising revenue would have to be submitted to a vote of the people at the next general election or be approved by 3/4’s supermajority of both the House and the Senate.  Since the passage of SQ640, only ONE tax increase was passed in 2004 and that was the tobacco tax which passed with only 53 percent of the voters.

4.  2016, SQ 779 the Oklahoma 1% sales tax ,it would have generated an estimated $615 million per year for education funding it was defeated by the voters of Oklahoma 59.4% to 40.6%.  The tax would have been split accordingly:  69.50% for common schools; 19.25% for higher ed; 3.25% for career tech ed.; 8% for the department of education and it would have increased teachers’ pay by $5,000.00

5.  The Step Up Plan, brought up for a vote in February this year, would have brought teachers a $5,000 pay increase.  A rally was held, the gallery of the House was packed with teachers who wanted this $5,000 pay increase.  This plan had everything going for it.  It was written and promoted by prominent business and civic leaders.  It was a sure fire way to get taxes raised.  It failed 63 to 35 votes.  It had to have 76 votes to pass.  Remember the majority of the House voted for it.  The legislature couldn’t get it done even with many business leaders from all across Oklahoma strongly supporting it.  It would have brought teachers a $5,0000.00 pay increase (not a $10,000 pay increase).

6.  HB 1033XX revenue bill ran just last week in the senate, would have brought if passed a 12.7% -  $4,000.00 raise for teachers pay (SB 133) and $2,500 for state employees.   It failed just this month, all 8 democrats voted against it as well as 4 Republicans.   It couldn’t meet the 3/4’s vote requirement.  This bill would have raised the tax on cigarettes, fuel, and GPT to 4%.

Are you seeing a pattern here?  Revenue bills are close to impossible to pass.  The majority of the legislators want teachers to have a raise, it’s the SQ 640 that prevents revenue bills from being passed because the Platform Caucus in the House and the Democrats will not support the revenue bills that would help education.  The Platform Caucus refuses to support revenue bills because they have made a promise to their constituents that they would never raise taxes.  The Democrats will  not support revenue bills that help education because the GPT is not high enough in the bills, it has to be at least to 5%.

That is exactly why we wrote the 60 in 6 plan so that it would pass the House and the Senate with only 51% since it is not a tax raising revenue bill.

Any revenue bill will have to have a 3/4’s vote.  Folks, that is not going to happen this year.  No matter how wonderful the plan, no matter how badly it is needed, no matter how passionate you are, it will not pass.  Even if you have everyone walk out, it truly will take a miracle.  The miracle will have to be the Democrats or the Platform Caucus voting for it.   

Now you know why we wrote this plan the way we did.  Remember, why we learn history, so we don’t repeat the same mistakes again.  This Plan is not written the same way as the others.  This plan would be the largest teacher pay raise in the history of our state. Unless the legislature takes money away from another agency. 

Well, this may be the only way to get a pay increase.  The 60 in 6 may be the ONLY viable plan out there, because of the way it is written to pass with 51% of the votes and because the House leadership, the Senate leadership and the Governor are open to it. 

The only other hope is the initiative petition vote on restoring the GPT that may be on the ballot in November.  This petition will give teachers a $4,000.00 pay increase if passed.

Lee Matthews

Lee Matthews

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