Stitt unveils compromise Oklahoma education funding plan to ease legislative impasse
Gov. Kevin Stitt is hoping to bridge the divide between House and Senate leaders and end a standoff on education funding.
The governor unveiled his $800 million compromise at a Friday press conference.
“I’m really just trying to listen to both sides, bring them together, and I believe I’ve captured that with this document,” he said, referencing a one-page print-out that included the details of his plan. “And so this is what I’m pushing them to pass and get on my desk.”
Similar to the Senate’s teacher raise, Stitt’s plan calls for graduated teacher raises based on experience. But the Senate plan was $3,000 to $6,000, and Stitt’s plan lowers that to $2,000 to $5,000, closer to the level the House had called for.
It also has $300 million for new school funding, but keeps the House’s cap at $2 million per school. That would be a boon for smaller districts, but the cap leaves large schools with disproportionately lower new funding, which has been heavily opposed by senate leaders.
It also includes a voucher-like tax credit program for households who send their kids to private schools or homeschool. There’s no income cap for eligibility, but the governor said the plan would be “prioritizing” households that make under $250,000 a year.
“I think there’s parts that they both like and there’s parts that they don’t like,” Stitt said. “I think in negotiations, neither side is going to be happy 100 percent. It’s kind of my job to say guys, ‘let’s break the logjam. Let’s get good policy.’”
House Speaker Charles McCall said he was reviewing the plan in a news release sent to reporters about an hour after Stitt’s press availability.
“As negotiations progress over the coming days, the House will continue to focus on passing an education plan that works for every student, every parent, every teacher and every school in the state,” he said in the release.
Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat has said that education budget negotiations have been difficult over the past few weeks.
“At some point if we can’t find a pathway to success on the education thing, we may have to abandon that and move onto other budget things,” Treat said at a press conference Thursday. “We’re prepared to do that if we have to do that.”