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The Latest: Oklahoma governor says other areas need funding

April 2, 2018

Teachers from across Kentucky hold up signs as they fill the state Capitol to rally for increased funding and to protest last minute changes to their state funded pension system, Monday, April 2, 2018, in Frankfort, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Latest on a teachers’ rallies in Kentucky and Oklahoma (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says the state’s leaders can’t neglect other parts of the state’s budget in looking for more money for education.

Fallin’s comments came Monday, the day thousands of teachers rallied at the state Capitol seeking increased spending for the classroom. Kentucky teachers led a demonstration in Frankfort in a separate event.

Fallin said the corrections and health and human services also need more money. She praised the GOP-led Legislature’s for approving part of teachers’ demands that included pay raises.

But Democratic lawmaker Collin Walke said teachers should keep up the pressure. He said he believes the Republican strategy is to wait the teachers out.

Many Oklahoma schools were closed Monday and will remain shut Tuesday to honor the teacher protests.

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3:45 p.m.

As teachers rally at the state Capitol in Kentucky, lawmakers there are considering a new state budget that includes a big boost in spending for public education. In Oklahoma, disgruntled teachers were holding a separate protest, causing schools to shut down.

Budget negotiators in Kentucky unveiled a spending plan Monday that includes increased spending for the main funding formula for K-12 schools. The plan also restored $254 million in money for school buses that the state’s Republican governor had proposed eliminating.

The higher education spending would be paid for by a 6 percent sales tax on a host of services that had previously been tax-free. The spending and taxing proposals cleared the Senate on Monday and now go to the House, which is expected to vote on the measures later Monday.

The demonstrations were inspired by West Virginia, where teachers walked out for nine days earlier this year and won a 5 percent increase in pay. Teachers in Arizona are now considering a strike over their demands for a 20 percent salary increase.

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12:50 p.m.

The head of Oklahoma’s largest teachers union says Monday’s walkout will last at least one more day.

Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest said during the rally that drew thousands to the state Capitol that teachers will continue pressing their demands for lawmakers to approve more funding for pay raises and classrooms. Teachers in Kentucky and Oklahoma rallied Monday to voice dissatisfaction with issues such as education funding and pensions.

School districts in Oklahoma City and the Tulsa areas have canceled Tuesday classes.

Demonstrations come just days after Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation increasing taxes on cigarettes, fuel and oil and gas production to provide teachers with raises of about $6,100, or 15 to 18 percent.

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11:50 a.m.

Oklahoma City public school officials say campuses will remain closed Tuesday amid ongoing teacher demonstrations for pay raises and more education funding. Teachers were holding separate protests in Oklahoma and Kentucky on Monday to voice dissatisfaction with issues like pay and pensions.

The Oklahoma City district said in a news release Monday schools will be closed but that meals will continue to be served to students.

The release said teacher union leaders indicated the walkout that led to school closures throughout Oklahoma on Monday will continue.

Union officials did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Thousands of teachers rallied at the state Capitol on Monday just days after Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation increasing taxes on cigarettes, fuel and oil and gas production to provide teachers with raises of about $6,100, or 15 to 18 percent.

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11:10 a.m.

Thousands of teachers and education supporters are marching in Oklahoma City, and schools all over the state are closed ahead of a rally at the state Capitol for more education funding. The protest is similar to one taking place in Kentucky, where angry teachers have gathered at the Capitol in Frankfort to protest changes to their pension plan.

The Monday walkout and protest in Oklahoma come just days after Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation increasing taxes to provide teachers with raises in Oklahoma, where teachers are among the lowest paid in the U.S.

But teachers and their supporters say more funding is needed, and they’re using the walkout to press lawmakers for additional funding. Rally organizers say it’s unclear how long the walkout will last.

Among the schools closed Monday are the state’s three largest school districts, in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Edmond.

Fallin signed legislation last week increasing taxes on cigarettes, fuel and oil and gas production to provide teachers with raises of about $6,100, or 15 to 18 percent.

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10:40 a.m.

Thousands of Kentucky teachers are marching from the Kentucky Education Association office to the steps of the state Capitol to protest last-minute changes to their pension system as lawmakers meet to consider a new state budget.

Chanting “enough is enough” and “we’ll remember in November,” the line of teachers and school employees stretched for blocks as they traveled toward the Capitol building holding signs.

Teachers have rallied several times during this year’s legislative session to protest the pension bill, but Monday’s event is shaping up as their biggest.

Many Kentucky school districts are on spring break this week. But some districts not on break had to cancel classes because of teacher absences.

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9 a.m.

Thousands of teachers have gathered in Frankfort to put the political heat on Kentucky lawmakers.

Teachers and other school employees filled the streets outside the Kentucky Education Association office Monday. They held signs and prepared to raise their voices as lawmakers returned to the Capitol to possibly vote on new two-year state budget.

The school employees plan to march to the Capitol, a couple of blocks away, on a cold, overcast day.

Teachers have rallied several times during this year’s legislative session to protest a pension bill. But Monday’s event is shaping up as their biggest event as lawmakers try to reach agreement on a new budget.

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8:30 a.m.

Kentucky teachers are gathering for a massive rally in hopes of putting political heat on state lawmakers who are returning to the Capitol to possibly consider a new two-year operating budget.

The Kentucky Education Association says a rally is set for Monday at union headquarters in Frankfort, followed by a march to the Capitol.

A small group of teachers and school employees gathered early Monday outside the Capitol Annex, where lawmakers have their offices. A large sign displayed outside the Annex said: “We’ve Had Enough.” Outside the Capitol, a sign said: “You Make Us Sick.”

Teachers have rallied several times during this year’s legislative session to protest a pension bill. But Monday’s event is shaping up as their biggest event as lawmakers try to reach agreement on a new budget.

Many Kentucky school districts are on spring break this week. But some districts not on break had canceled classes Monday because of teachers traveling to the Capitol.

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2:30 a.m.

Kentucky teachers are heading to the state Capitol to rally for education funding.

The rally Monday is happening after hundreds of teachers called in sick Friday to protest last-minute changes to their pension system.

The protest caused nearly two dozen districts to close. Some school districts have called off classes Monday, but much of the state is on spring break.

Lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene Monday to possibly vote on a two-year operating budget.

Teachers’ union president Stephanie Winkler said last week that if the budget is not in the best interest of public education, students and public service, “then we will react.”

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