Despite the support of Governor Kevin Stitt, a bill authorizing vouchers failed in the Oklahoma State Senate. Most rural Republicans support public schools. Pastors for Oklahoma z children actively opposed vouchers.

The Oklahoman reports:

A polarizing Oklahoma bill that would dedicate $128.5 million in taxpayer dollars for private school costs failed in a late-night vote on the Senate floor Wednesday.

In a 24-22 vote, a majority of senators nixed Senate Bill 1647, called the Oklahoma Empowerment Act, effectively defeating the bill for this legislative session.

One of the most high-profile pieces of legislation this year, the bill stalled after two hours of debate and two more hours of waiting as Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, the bill’s author, tried to flip a few Republican holdouts in a last-ditch effort to advance the measure…

Had SB 1647 advanced, it would have faced a difficult road in the House, where Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, said last month he wouldn’t give the bill a hearing.

McCall’s stance hasn’t changed, House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols told News 9 this week.

“Here’s the bottom line: I’m in favor of parents being able to choose,” said Echols, R-Oklahoma City. “I’m in favor of finding a way to have more parental involvement, but no, this bill is a waste of time this year.

“Speaker McCall’s not going to budge on this. It’s not going to be heard in the House…”

McCall said the bill is a non-starter for rural lawmakers, whose districts have far fewer private-school options. Even with the bill no longer drawing money out of the education funding formula — the multi-billion-dollar pot of state funds supporting public schools — it still struggled to attract enough rural Republicans to pass.

Senate Democrats almost unanimously opposed the measure. State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, a Democratic candidate for governor, celebrated the bill’s failure while claiming it would have “effectively destroyed public schools in Oklahoma.”