Governor, Lawmakers Agree To Use Rainy Day Fund To Help Education, DOC

Wednesday, March 9th 2016, 5:39 pm

State leaders held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to announce an agreement to dip into the state's Rainy Day Fund for the State Education and Corrections departments.

Governor Mary Fallin, Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman and House Speaker Jeff Hickman made the announcement in The Blue Room of the state Capitol.

After making two cuts to education since Christmas, the state reversed course Wednesday and decided to take money out the Rainy Day Fund.

The state has cut $109 million from education.The plan is to take $51 million out of the fund for education and $27.5 million out of the fund for the Oklahoma Department of Education.

"We think this is a very responsible, available action we can take immediately to address a concern we have and the public has to make sure our children get the education services they need," Fallin said.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said at the news conference that she hopes the additional funding will prevent schools from taking drastic actions to save money, especially moving to four-day weeks. 

"We hope that this measure will mean schools will not take drastic means and have a four-day school week to finish the year," she said.

Hofmeister had asked for $56 million to offset cuts of $109 million made in the current year. Tuesday she had said schools wouldn't survive without help from the Rainy Day Fund.

3/8/2016: Related Story: State Superintendent: Schools Won’t Make It Without Using Rainy Day Fund

Lawmakers said the next step is to craft the legislation and send it to the governor's desk.