House Speaker Charles McCall today refuted House Democrats who have said the state lacks the ability to fully fund the teacher pay raises that were passed this week and signed into law by the governor. After the House repealed a $5 per night lodging tax on rented hotel and motel rooms, which would have generated approximately $43.8 million for the budget, House Democrats have been claiming the state won’t be able to fully fund the pay raises. Speaker McCall said, however, the Legislature has already funded the raises as it passed an education budget, which was signed by the governor. That budget provided the State Department of Education a 19.74 percent increase of its Fiscal Year-2018 budget, and it included the funding to cover the recent pay raises for teachers and support staff, textbooks and increases in flex benefits. “It is absolutely false that we don’t have the ability to fully fund those pay raises,” said McCall, R-Atoka. “Teachers can rest assured that these pay raises have already been funded. Period. The repeal of the lodging tax leaves us with a $32 million shortfall, but the reality is we have multiple ways of replacing that revenue. We would never have agreed to the Senate’s request to repeal the lodging tax if we didn’t believe we could find revenue to replace those funds. There is a whole lot more to our revenue structure than just those two bills.”

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