OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO) - After a full week of marching at the capitol, teachers believe they are finally making some progress but they say it's still not enough for them to go back to the classroom.
It was a potentially monumental day at the State Capitol as the Senate heard three bills that could have a major impact on the teacher walkout. Some educators 7NEWS spoke with said they left their homes at 5:30 a.m. just to ensure they were present to make their voices heard.
As the day went along, those teachers rode a wave of emotions. Teachers were hoping for the first two bills heard by the Senate to pass but the third to fail.
The first two, an Amazon tax bill and a ball and dice bill did pass. The first will require third parties to charge sales tax for online purchases, bringing in approximately $20 million toward education. The second will allow games like roulette and craps to be played at casinos, which is expected to bring in $22 million for education.
However, the third bill also passed, repealing a hotel-motel tax that would have brought in approximately $50 million. All three bills now require the signature of Governor Mary Fallin before they become laws. Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest said the first two bills passing were a step in the right direction but said they are still not ready to end the walkout.
"The Senate just repealed Hotel Motel tax which puts us further in the hole with funding. And we are calling on the governor to veto that repeal and for the house to put capital gains tax on and pass that. And those things will allow for the walkout to end," Priest said.
Teachers from southwest Oklahoma were again out in full force at the capitol today, with several waiting hours to get inside with hopes of having their voices heard.
"From the beginning we knew we had to do more for our kids, everyone is talking about the bill that passed and that's great, we're so fortunate for that, we feel grateful, we feel it's overdue but we feel there's more funding on the table and we need that for kids, for our classroom sizes. To hire teachers, for retention," said Altus High School teacher Jessica Robinson
As the first two bills were passed as teachers hoped they would be, there was a resounding feeling of hope inside the capitol.
"It was a really good feeling to know that we go just a portion of what we need passed. We need that to keep on going with future bills. It's just a small step, we need some larger strides," said Eisenhower Middle School teacher Mike Hoffman.
Whether it was outside the capitol marching in the cold and rain or inside, holding signs and talking to legislators, teachers continued to show they have no plans of giving up.
"We want them to know where we stand and what we're here to do. I would much rather be in my classroom right now, but I know this is very important, so I am walking, and I am here for my students and all Oklahoma students," said Comanche High School Teacher Armida Garcia.