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Okmulgee Rep. Scott Fetgatter tells teacher group ‘tone rhetoric down, get behind legislature’

John Marshall / Red Dirt Report
Judy Mullen Hopper takes phone picture while Scott Inman and Donnie Condit address teachers Tuesday.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – An Okmulgee representative told a Facebook group to “stop beating the crap out of me” then tells the group he no longer follows Oklahoma Parents and Educators Facebook page.

Rep. Scott Fetgatter (R-Okmulgee) spoke to the group Tuesday morning dismissing their tone and rhetoric. During his face time with the group he said, “We pass the teacher pay raise, and immediately after passing the teacher pay raise the focus shifted from we want a pay raise to those idiots passed a pay raise, but they don’t have a way to fund it.”

The first-time Republican representative went on to explain, “Teachers from my district, that I am friends with immediately started beating me up on this issue.” He told members of the group that they do not fully understand the budget process.

Talking to teachers, he proceeded to use simple numbers to explain that the legislature is not in control of much of the state revenue citing; the legislature will only appropriate $6 out of $17 billion dollars this year.

Fetgatter then gave teachers a learning moment with this example; “If I gave you $3,000 to pay your bills for the month, you would be excited about that and then all the sudden you only get to choose where $900 of that goes because the rest of that is already going to be apportioned out.”

He then went on to explain how the unfunded teacher pay raise bill will be passed to the Senate without funding attached. He told the group when and if the Governor signs this unfunded legislation, it would then go back to the House to be funded.

Red Dirt Report talked with Speaker of the House Charles McCall (R-Atoka) later Tuesday who reassured teachers that he was committed to a fully funded pay raise. He then went on to talk about future funding, "We are going to need to have the ability to pay for this on an ongoing basis, we don’t need to pay for it with one-time revenue, and we don’t want to move into a long-term obligation with short term dollars."

McCall then talked about the last election cycle and how legislative members overwhelmingly heard that a teacher pay raise was a priority.

Other legislators visited the group and spoke to concerned citizens.

Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) talked to the group telling them he is afraid that by the time we get this teacher pay raise, it will be time for another. He said he was an advocate for a $10,000 raise and that he wanted to get us out of a “catch-up” cycle. He talked about how we must take care of this pay raise so that we can focus on other issues like mental health.

Rep. Scott Inman (D-Del City) also talked to the group about how funding for the state had been decimated over the last decade by constant revenue reductions. As always, he reminded the group that gross production taxes must be raised, and talked about his plan to create a sliding scale so that the oil industry would pay more when prices are higher.

He thinks the current rate should be raised from 2 to 5 percent. He is also an advocate for restoring the income tax rates for the wealthy. Inman thinks exemptions for oil field services should be repealed too. He said that reinstating these taxes could net the state between 1.1 and 1.2 billion in revenue.

Inman also talked about a meeting Gov. Mary Fallin had with oil executives last week. Apparently, she asked them about raising gross productions taxes. Inman said they wanted nothing to do with that. “The oil industry is the most powerful industry ever,” he commented.

After the teacher meeting, Red Dirt Report talked to Inman and asked him if the new taxes were a Red Herring to distract citizens from old taxes that were repealed over the last decade.

“I think it is an absolute distraction and it is an attempt to shift tax burden funding the state government from those folks who can best afford it to those folks who can least afford it,” he said.

Angela Little, organizer for the legislative day event said the group Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education is a Facebook closed group of 28,000 members.

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John Marshall

John Marshall is a videographer and new addition to Red Dirt Report. As he told us: I am...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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