It isn’t often that Oklahoma lawmakers work in a bi-partisan manner or accomplish anything that is beneficial to the state.

It isn’t often that Oklahoma lawmakers work in a bi-partisan manner or accomplish anything that is beneficial to the state.

Monday night, the House of Representatives accomplished both.

The last time the House passed a revenue measure, mullets were long and many of those casting votes Monday night were jamming out to “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice, “Vogue” by Madonna, or “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer. It has been a while, to say the least.

The right wing zealots who refuse to raise any revenue because they think we can cut our way to prosperity weren’t happy during the after hours session Monday. They always say new revenue is bad. Cutting waste can fund teacher pay raises. They have cut most state agencies about 40 percent over the past few years.

It has been a decade since teachers got a raise. In 10 years they haven’t cut enough waste to find money for teacher raises. But Monday night, those arguments were still in the air above the House floor.

They never look at the fact that the state leads the nation in the amount of school funding cuts per pupil. That’s one of the few ways that Oklahoma is No. 1. Well, education cuts and jailing women. I have never seen tee shirts at travel stops celebrating either of those.

The Republicans who aren’t so far right that they still understand that losing good teachers to every state in the region is a problem, finally found a path to compromise with the 28 Democrats in the House of Representatives to accomplish real revenue growth and pay state employees, school support staff and teachers more.

The Gross Production Tax goes back to five percent – up from two percent, but far short of seven percent where it was before the oil industry took over the state legislature. Gasoline taxes increase, hotel taxes go up, and cigarette smokers will pay more.

No one was completely happy with this bill. The regressive taxes like the gasoline tax made some representatives unhappy. The GPT made many who were lobbied by the oil and gas industry tremble. Why wouldn’t they be a little nervous? Harold Hamm himself sat in the gallery glaring down at the legislators who were violating their marching orders to keep the GPT at four percent or below.

But despite big money donors putting pressure on them, people from both sides of the aisle with various beliefs came together and created something they didn’t love, but they were able to like it enough to make this happen.

That is compromise. That is how legislation works.

It took a 75 percent vote to pass this measure. It passed 79-19. It was the first time since 1990 that the House had passed a revenue raising measure. The lawmakers applauded after that announcement.

They earned it.

After several false starts and sputters, a serious teacher pay raise bill and a funding mechanism to support it finally passed.

I’m not sure that the Senate will pass the measure, but I think they probably will. I’m not sure Gov. Mary Fallin will sign it but I bet she would.

I’m not sure passing the measure would stop the April 2 teacher walkout that is planned across the state, but it should.

If the measure makes it through the state senate and past the governor’s desk, it will be the first time in more than a decade that Oklahoma teachers won’t be the worst paid educators in the region.

There is still work to do to make this happen. But step one was a big one. Getting a bill through the House of Representatives with a 75 percent margin seemed impossible only a few days ago. Monday night, true bi-partisan compromise tore through a seemingly unbreakable boundary.

That’s a big deal. Stay tuned to see if the legislative process can be completed and if the action is enough to avert a walkout, but while you are tuning in, enjoy the fact that legislators did good work Monday night.

It wasn’t easy. It isn’t perfect. But it was the best work this state’s lawmakers have done in years.