My phone and email was going off like crazy during that two hours with questions I couldn't answer. Why? Because I was still trying to read a bill that was just handed to me.
While I was on the House floor my text and email was going off with teachers asking me to not support the bill. These were my constituents, teachers that I trust, asking me to please vote no on this bill.
Leaderships sole purpose of rushing this bill through was to prevent the walkout. Oklahoma Education Association has made it perfectly clear that this bill was not good enough and they will still be walking.
I'm hearing from teachers and OEA saying they are going through with the walkout on April 2nd to push for the rest of their package (funding for years 2 and 3, COLA for retired teachers, etc.)
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it's over for this session. This bill passing tonight put the period at the end of the sentence. House Leadership is not going to come back and visit another big revenue package. Stick a fork in it, because it's done. They are patting themselves on the back for a job well done.
I'm happy to see GPT get increased this time around. Still not enough. Glad to see it will be voted on by the people in November.
I'm happy that we saw compromise for once on the House floor, even if I didn't agree.
I'm not happy that a bill of this significance was shoved through the system. The largest tax increase in Oklahoma history and I can't even discuss specifics, because I'm still trying to read through the entire bill. Leadership told us what was in the bill, but I want to see it for myself. The fact that we didn't even have time to share the details of this significant bill with our constituents makes me physically ill.
I'm not happy that education groups did not have time for input on this bill, so now there will still be a walkout. Our kids will still be impacted on something that could have easily been prevented with communication.
So in my opinion...teachers were played by the House tonight. They shoved this bill through as fast as possible. No input from retired or current teachers necessary. A walkout will now be on deaf ears, because, hey! they gave you a pay raise. A YES vote actually stopped the teacher movement. They stopped your voice before it ever started. Contrary to public opinion, legislators are not stupid.
I was willing to fight for a higher pay raise, because that is what I pledged to do when teachers made the hard decision to move forward with a walkout. I was willing to go the distance with you.
I'm going to bed tonight frustrated with today's events, but at peace with my NO vote. I honestly feel I was doing what was best for our teachers and my constituents. At least my heart was in the right place when I made my decision and pushed that button.
So in the words of Don Meredith, who would sing during Monday night football after a key play that ended the possibilities of other team to win the game, "Turn out the lights, the party's over!"
Opinion of the Editor
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David Van Risseghem is the Director of Sooner Politics.org. The resource is committed to informing & mobilizing conservative Oklahomans for civic reform. This endeavor seeks to utilize the efforts of all cooperative facets of the Conservative movement...