Some Oklahoma families could receive student tax credits if a new proposal is approved. Last week, the state Senate approved private school tax credits in Oklahoma. In a separate bill, the Senate also approved an increase in funding for public schools and a pay increase for teachers.
Senate Approves Private School Tax Credits In Oklahoma
In terms of the private school tax credits in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit Act (House Bill 1935) would grant each student in a household $7,500 in tax credits for private school tuition, while home-school families would get a refundable tax credit of $5,000.
The Oklahoma Senate also added a household income limit of $250,000 for families to use the tax credits. The state Senate estimates that the tax credits would be used by about 12,000 private-school students and 5,000 home-school students if the bill passes. These tax credits are estimated to cost the state about $98 million.
In addition to the private school tax credits in Oklahoma, the state Senate also approved House Bill 2775, which boosts education funding and teacher pay. The bill raises teacher pay by $3,000 to $6,000, depending on the teacher's experience. HB2775 also scraps the $2 million limit, evenly distributing $300 million in school funding across the state on the basis of enrollment.
The Oklahoma House version of the bill included a $2,500 pay raise for teachers and a $300 million funding increase for public schools. However, the house version retains the $2 million funding limit a single school district could receive.
Senate And House Still Need To Agree On Numbers
Both bills were originally advanced by the House and came with a warning from House Speaker Charles McCall. He warned that any changes to the bills by the Senate would make them “dead on arrival” when they return to the house.
"If they [the Senate] send it back amended, I mean the, the bill's dead," the House speaker warned.
Despite the warning, the Senate made changes to many key parts of the bills, including the funding amount and introducing an income limit for the tax credits. McCall objected to the income limit, but Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat noted that it was needed to gather support for the bill.
However, after the Senate vote, McCall took a softer stance, admitting that there is room for negotiations with the Senate.
Nevertheless, the Senate's approval of both bills means most lawmakers now support tax credits for school, pay raises for teachers and increased classroom funding. Still, both chambers need to agree on the numbers so that the bills can be sent Gov. Kevin Stitt, who has already voiced support for the school choice bill.
Lawmakers still have about two months to reach a consensus on the key numbers.