Oklahoma Education Funding Still Not Finalized
TULSA, Oklahoma - With less than a month before the Oklahoma Legislature adjourns for the summer, education funding still isn't finalized.
The legislative session has to end on the last Friday in May. This year that actually falls on the last day of the month.
With just a few weeks to go, we all remember the sound, the video and pictures of last year's Teacher Walkout.
"I think that opened a lot of eyes in the state about how important teacher funding is," said Republican State Rep. Terry O'Donnell, the House Majority Whip.
And with just a few weeks to go in this legislative session, Catoosa Representative Terry O'Donnell said lawmakers are finalizing the last few pieces of the budget. He said the education budget is probably going to be between $130 and $150 million.
"Twenty million of it has to go to the teachers' insurance benefits - what we call the flex benefits - and then another $70 million could be used for the $1,200 teacher pay raise," said Rep. O'Donnell.
The ongoing debate is how some of that money will be allocated to school districts.
"There's a lot of working going on at the Capitol behind the scenes that the public is generally not aware of," said Rep. O'Donnell.
In a statement to News On 6, Vice President of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association Shawna Mott-Wright said the organization is encouraged by the positive talk on funding but say all teachers need a raise, and there needs to be money in the classroom.
Representative O'Donnell said education remains one of the biggest topics in the legislature as lawmakers continue to work to finalize the full budget.
"It's always been important to our legislature," said Rep. O'Donnell.
"The budget is kind of a compilation of the session and so you get a package - the budget is kind of a culmination of the session, and really it is the important thing we do in the legislature," said Rep. O'Donnell.
After the House and Senate agree on a budget, they will collectively send it to Governor Stitt for his approval and signature.
TCTA Full Statement:
“We need a raise for all teachers to help recruit and retain teachers in the future. And we must have money for the classroom. We’re encouraged by positive talk on school funding, but we’ll wait and see how it rolls out. We look forward to them listening to educators on what they want and we know our members have been talking to them since before session began."
Vice President of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association Shawna Mott-Wright