By Associated Press - Friday, February 26, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Republican-dominated Oklahoma Legislature is struggling to gain support for two education issues.

The Oklahoman ( ) reports that an education savings account bill barely passed through the House Common Education Committee, and consolidation measures died as lawmakers reached a deadline for getting legislation out of committee Thursday.

Under the education savings account bill, the state would pay a portion of the cost for parents who want to switch their children from a public to private school. The measure passed Feb. 15 with a 9-8 vote.

Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb asked lawmakers to support the bill.

“It’s one thing to make a campaign statement,” he said. “It’s much more to actually govern, to do something and to have a vision. It’s time to act and give parents more choices.”

Rep. Jadine Nollan, R-Sand Springs, voted against the bill and said she has received hundreds of emails about the issue, with about 90 percent opposed.

“Very simply stated, my district is not for them,” Nollan said. “If we’re going to do something like that, doing it with a billion-dollar shortfall in our budget doesn’t seem like good timing to me.”

The consolidation bills that would unify some underperforming dependent school districts failed to emerge from the committee after facing strong opposition when hundreds of children and teachers swarmed the Capitol to oppose the bill on Feb. 15.

Consolidation efforts in the Senate also failed.

Robert A. Funk, head of Express Employment Professionals, supports both of the bills. In a letter to lawmakers, he said the Legislature could improve educational outcomes and strengthen Oklahoma’s workforce.

“These issues represent the reason many of us have worked so hard for so many years to assure that the makeup of the Oklahoma Legislature was changed to include people willing to confront entrenched political groups which desire to protect the current system of administrative waste and union control,” Funk wrote.

Gov. Mary Fallin has also expressed support for both of the bills.


Information from: The Oklahoman,

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