Teacher donation tax credit could head to Senate, Democrats push back


A bill that encourages parents to donate directly to their child’s teacher could now be heard in the Senate.

HB 3351 was a key talking point for Senate Democrats at a press conference Thursday.

The measure was adopted on Wednesday by the credit committee.

The measure creates a 100% tax credit for donations from a parent to their child’s teacher, up to a maximum of $1,000 per year.

The bill authorizes up to $5 million of this type of tax credit annually.

“My concerns are obviously that it’s not fair. If we are looking for ways to increase teacher compensation, that is a far cry from abdicating our responsibilities as a state legislature to be able to fund this for everyone,” said Sen. Carri Hicks, (D -Oklahoma City).

Lawmakers expressed concern that the measure would attract teachers to schools with a richer tax base and leave low-income schools with a growing shortage of teachers.

“If you have two schools and in one school zone the combined family income is $200,000, and in the second school the average combined family income in that zone is $75,000, if you have a class of 25 students, potentially in the first school the teacher could earn an extra $25,000. School B, however, will not have that option,” said Sen. Kay Floyd, (D-Oklahoma City).

The Oklahoma Tax Commission and the State Department of Education would be tasked with creating rules for the bill, which the measure says “will include a process for a parent to anonymously make monetary donations to his child’s teacher.

House author Speaker Charles McCall said in a statement, “Rewarding teachers with generous, anonymous donations is a common-sense option to recognize our many quality educators in a way that upholds the standard of Oklahoma.”

The title was hit on the bill this week.

It comes as the legislature works on what should be a fixed budget for education spending, which the state Department of Education says will reduce purchasing power due to rising costs.

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