Bill benefiting classroom teachers signed into law

Oklahomans will have what sponsors call a new (and user friendly) way to financially support teachers thanks to an income tax checkoff program signed into law today.

House Bill 1852, by state Rep. Jabar Shumate and state Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre, creates the income tax checkoff and the “Public School Classroom Support Revolving Fund.” The two Tulsa Democrats gained passage of the reform late in the just-concluded legislative session. 

The bill was among the bills the chief executive signed today, as she works her way through proposals passed in the final days of the 2011 legislative session. In late afternoon on May 25, Fallin’s almost-final set of bill signing decisions was made available to CapitolBeatOK, and H.B. 1852 was on the list. 

“This new law gives Oklahomans a way to provide direct financial support for educational improvements in our school systems,” said Shumate. “I am pleased this legislation received such strong bipartisan support from lawmakers and the governor.”

Under the bill, money donated through the voluntary income tax checkoff would be deposited in the “Public School Classroom Support Revolving Fund.”

The Education Department, headed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, would use the money collected to provide annual grants to public school classroom teachers for supplies, materials, or equipment.

Applications will be considered on a statewide competitive basis. 

“The legislation was a request from teachers associated with Professional Oklahoma Educators, and in a tough budget year, this was an innovative way to provide extra funds for the classroom while also encouraging innovation,” Shumate said.

House Bill 1852 passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives 93-2, then prevailed unanimously in the state Senate before being signed into law today (Wednesday, May 25). 
Note: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.