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Teachers' reactions after Step Up Oklahoma budget plan fails

House Bill 1033 would have brought in an estimated $581 million a year by raising taxes on tobacco, gasoline, oil, natural gas and wind energy. They needed a total of 75 percent to vote yes in order to pass the budget plan, but only 64 percent of lawmakers voted yes. (KTUL)

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) – It’s back to the chalkboard for teachers, and back to square one for state legislators, after the Step Up Oklahoma budget package that would have given teachers a $5,000 pay raise failed by 13 votes Monday.

House Bill 1033 would have brought in an estimated $581 million a year by raising taxes on tobacco, gasoline, oil, natural gas and wind energy.

They needed a total of 75 percent to vote yes in order to pass the budget plan, but only 64 percent of lawmakers voted yes.

Teachers like Stephanie Jones, who works at Skelly Primary, are back at work after taking a trip to the Capitol Monday.

“We all really felt like it was going to pass,” Jones said. “We were all just disappointed. We feel like this is not the first time we have been let down.”

Shawna Mott-Wright, Vice President of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association is feeling the same pain.

“I’m at a complete loss,” Mott-Wright said. “We’re all beyond devastated. My heart is broken. I’m mad. I’m angry. For legislatures to say, well that’s it, we’re done. No, that is not acceptable. That’s not acceptable for all of our kids. It’s not acceptable for all of our teachers. That’s not acceptable for our state.” She said teachers are already telling her they are leaving.

“I’m gone,” Mott-Wright said when talking about their messages to her. “I’ll finish the school year and then I’m not coming back.”

“How long do teachers have to wait?” said Mott-Wright. “How long do Oklahoma’s children have to wait? I don’t care about party politics on either side. What good has that done us? We just need to get something going now.”

Although this $5,000 teacher raise is off the table, Jones is hopeful for another solution. “Five thousand dollars would bring us closer to the regional average,” she said. “We would be a little bit more competitive. I love Oklahoma and I believe in this state and I know that they are going to fix it.”

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