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Educators Plead For Relief From State Lawmakers

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Educators told several lawmakers now is the time to tap the rainy day fund. Educators told several lawmakers now is the time to tap the rainy day fund.

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

JENKS, OK -- Bracing for a state budget shortfall that could climb to nearly a billion dollars, local educators say it's raining.

Educators told several lawmakers Friday, now is the time to tap the rainy day fund.

"We have lost about $612, from the state," said Nancy McKay, Jenks CFO.

Education is hurting -- that is the message these educators wanted to deliver to these state lawmakers.

Jenks held its annual legislative luncheon but this year, the budget is all anyone could talk about.

"We're still looking at about a $900 million shortfall," said State Sen. Gary Stanislawski, (R) Tulsa.

Lawmakers laid out the cold, hard facts. Educators responded with a few brutal realities of their own.

"We did carryover a little bit that can get us through a short period of difficult times without having to look at major budget cuts," said Debra Jacoby, Union CFO.

So far, Union and Jenks have been able to weather the storm but both of their chief financial officers suggested without some relief, the districts could soon follow Tulsa Public Schools lead and start looking at drastic measures, like furloughs.

"It may mean no salary increases next year, it may mean furlough days next year, but everyone will be gainfully employed," Mckay said.

To keep everyone employed, districts are looking for relief from the state's rainy day fund.

"We would like to open the rainy day fund. We believe it needs to happen," Stanislawski said.

The fact is even if lawmakers emptied the rainy day fund it wouldn't get the state out of the hole.

"We can't use all of the rainy day funds, believe me we're gonna need it for 2011 fiscal year as well but we need to open it up and start using some," Stanislawski said.

"We're gonna face some very serious problem not just this year but also next year and I agree wholeheartedly with the Senator because next year may well be worse," said Rep. Weldon Watson, (R) Tulsa.

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