The state budget proposal is released at nearly $10 billion for the upcoming fiscal year.
Around half is going to education which includes a significant increase for higher education funding.
Spending on common education will increase half a percent this year to accommodate inflation.
This is essentially a flat budget.
Chair of the Senate budget and appropriations Roger Thompson says the flat budget is because some lawmakers feel education spending is in a good place.
He says schools received nearly $2 billion in pandemic related federal relief dollars, and priority for state dollars needed to be elsewhere this year.
Democrats in the Senate questioned why more dollars weren’t given to schools.
‘We’re hearing from schools what their needs are, we see teachers leaving the field, they’ve faced unbelievable crisis over the past two years. picking up the pieces from COVID, trying to help kids recover, and we need to be supporting them through this,” said Sen. Julia Kirt, D-OKC.
A new incentive program promises new teachers about $25,000 over the course of their education and in the first few years of their careers.
The Oklahoma Future Teacher Scholarship and Employment Incentive program costs about $41 million over the next five years.
Candidates for the funding must graduate from an Oklahoma high school, go to an in-state university, and take an in-state teaching job.
Lawmakers hope the incentive fund will help make teaching a more attractive option as the state grapples with a teacher shortage.