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State Budget Agreement Reached

The government and state legislators have made a deal on the budget, even though parts of it are still being written. The deal came together this week after a contentious set of disagreements between lawmakers and the governor on how to spend our tax money, $7.1 billion of it, for the coming year. The budget deal made at the State Capitol still has a lot of details left to be decided. The News On 6’s Emory Bryan reports state leaders claim credit for record spending on education, but so far the teachers aren't sure how much of the $1,000 pay raise they'll actually get.

"Well right now the plan is so nebulous we don't know how to comment until the details are put into place,” said Steve Stockley of Tulsa Classroom Teachers. “There is no salary schedule yet and naturally our concern is that the money be allotted fairly."

The teachers union wants the raise to be across the board, but the legislature has it weighted towards veteran teachers. The union had hoped more money would go to the chronically underfunded teachers’ retirement plan.

"There's just not enough, and sooner or later they're going to have to pay for it, and that's the biggest crime is last year and this year the legislature hasn't poured the money into it, compared to what needs to be," said Stockley.

The budget includes $15 million for the state centennial to pay for more of the events to celebrate Oklahoma's 100th year. The budget sends $2.5 million to rural fire departments to buy new equipment and has $1.4 million for firefighter training. There's $10 million to pay for the state's expenses from the January ice. And there's $6.5 million for rebuilding some of Oklahoma's flood control dams, money that will be tripled with matching money from the federal government.

Over the next couple of weeks the details will be worked out on the teacher raises, which the legislature says is the first step towards a merit pay system for the teachers. And one thing that survived the budget was a million dollar audit of the department of corrections, to see if the state can save money there.

To read more about the budget agreement, click here.

Watch the video:

State Budget Comes Together
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