Rep. Pfeiffer: Bills move to Governor or back to Chamber of origin

Last week was the third-reading deadline for legislation to pass from its opposite chamber in order to stay active this legislative session.

By the deadline, the House had passed 254 Senate bills and joint resolutions, and the Senate had passed 227 House measures.

Once bills pass their opposite chamber, they can move to the governor if they are unamended. The governor already has signed about 100 pieces of legislation into law so far this year.

If bills are amended, they must return to their chamber of origin for further consideration.

The House last week voted on a bill that would grant teachers a pay raise of between $2,000 and $5,000 depending on their years of service. We also passed a bill that would add step raises on the minimum salary schedule for teachers with between 26 and 35 years of experience. 

In addition, we amended House Bills 1935 and 2775 in conference committee.

House Bill 2775 would appropriate an additional $300 million to public schools through the State Aid School Funding Formula with a priority to fund the teacher pay raises. An additional $300 million would go to the Oklahoma Student Fund to be distributed to schools based on the weighted average daily membership counts from the previous school year. Each district could receive up to an additional $2 million per year to be spent on classroom and other educational materials or programs. 

HB 1935 would create the Parental Choice Tax Credit Act, which would provide a tax credit of up to $5,000 for students attending an accredited private school for the 2023 tax year and up to $6,500 for tax year 2025 and after. Parents of students educated by other means could receive a tax credit of up to $1,000.

These bills have the approval of the governor and would ensure that every school district and every teacher receives more funding while parents get the choices they’ve requested. The conference committee amendments still have to be approved by the Senate before the bills can be voted on again in each legislative chamber and be sent to the governor.

I wanted to clear up the issue of tax credits versus vouchers. Right now, a significant portion of ad valorem taxes on personal property goes to public schools. That will remain if these education bills are signed into law. A voucher would allow that money to remain with the taxpayer to be spent on private education or other education alternatives. A tax credit, however, allows an income tax payer to claim the credit on their income tax return even while their ad valorem taxes remain going to public schools.

At the same time, the House is moving forward on our state budget. We second read several bills scheduled for our Joint Committee on Appropriations & Budget, and the chairs for our A&B subcommittees met. We’ll continue to examine priorities for state dollars as we move toward the close of session.


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