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Battle over teacher pay raises goes to state supreme court

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A association of educators is challenging a veto referendum initiative and will argue against it at the state supreme court. (Wilson/KTUL)

House Bill 1010X is the funding mechanism for teacher pay raises that state lawmakers approved.

Now the bill is at the center of a battle between two groups – one that wants to kill it and one that wants to save it.

It's a battle going all the way to the state supreme court.

The signs had barely been put away after the two week teacher walkout when word came of a new fight.

"A veto referendum is what it's called," said Brooke McGowan of Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite.

The veto referendum is a statewide ballot initiative which could stop the tax hikes the legislature had just passed to pay for the teacher raises.

"We believe that it needs to go to a vote of the people," said Ronda Vuillemont-Smith of Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite.

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"Yeah well, the people did decide," said Ginger Tinney of Professional Oklahoma Educators. "We have a republic form of government, they elected their representatives and that is exactly what we saw happen."

And what's happening now out of the offices of the Professional Oklahoma Educators in Norman is the implementation of a plan to stop the veto referendum. But how?

"You cannot do a referendum on an area that would affect the public peace, the health or the safety," said Tinney.

They'll make their argument to the state supreme court that the walkout was a prime example of how the public peace was adversely affected; hence, the referendum should be blocked.

"You just talk to any parent who has children in public schools and ask them, 'Did this cause a disruption in your life?' and I assure you it cost them money and it cost them great frustration, and it was extremely stressful," said Tinney.

The taxpayers group is moving forward and says they'll see the educators in court.

"I'm confident that we're going to give it our best shot," said Vuillemont-Smith.

The educators say they don't have a hearing date yet, but expect one in the very near future.

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