Ray Carter | April 25, 2023
Stitt education compromise includes ideas from House and Senate
A recently unveiled compromise education proposal released by Gov. Kevin Stitt contains significant elements generated by both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate.
The proposal would create a robust school-choice tax credit that will make it financially viable for most families to choose private school or homeschooling for their children while also providing a record amount of funding to the public-school system, including another round of teacher pay raises.
“We can invest historic amounts in public education,” Stitt said. “We can invest historic amounts in a tax credit to unlock more options for parents.”
Stitt complimented leaders in both legislative chambers for their thoughtfulness in developing their education proposals.
“I have been meeting for months with House and Senate,” Stitt said. “So I’ve tried to take the best from both different bills and came up with this bill.”
Substantial provisions from both the House and Senate plans are contained in Stitt’s proposed compromise.
The education plan advanced by the House through two bills—House Bill 1935 and House Bill 2775—provided $300 million in per-pupil district grants provided outside the state funding formula and capped the grants at $2 million per district, a flat across-the-board teacher pay raise, and $50 million in “redbud” funding that would go to districts with limited or nonexistent local property tax bases. It also created a $5,000 and $2,500 per-child refundable tax credit for Oklahomans who choose private school or homeschooling, respectively. Under the House plan, the tax-credit program would be suspended if education funding falls below the 2024 appropriated level in future years.
The Senate plan ran all public-school funding increases through the state funding formula and also offered larger teacher pay increases for some teachers based on years of service. The Senate plan endorsed creation of a $7,500 per-pupil tuition tax credit for families earning up to $250,000 but lowered the credit for homeschool families to $1,000 per family. The Senate plan also devoted far less money—just $100 million—to the school-choice effort but did not include any provision suspending the program in future years.
Stitt’s proposed compromise includes the House plan’s $300 million funding for per-pupil district grants, including the $2 million cap, but incorporates the Senate’s stair-stepped model for teacher pay raises. His compromise tax-credit proposal is a blend of the two plans, calling for creation of $5,000 and $1,000 per-student tax credits for those who send children to private school or homeschool, respectively. The tax credit would prioritize families with earnings below $250,000 and would be capped at $200 million per year. By year three of the program, the private-school tax credit would increase to $6,500 and the income cap and cap on total spending would be eliminated.
Stitt said he offered the compromise proposal “trying to bring both teams together.”
“I think it’s time that we get something across the finish line,” Stitt said. “I want school choice. I want more options for parents. I want to fund students, not systems, in the state of Oklahoma. We want to unlock more innovation all over the state. We want to be top 10.”
Director, Center for Independent Journalism
Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.