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Agricultural News

Governor Mary Fallin, House and Senate Leaders Reach Budget Deal

Fri, 16 May 2014 12:14:11 CDT

Governor Mary Fallin, House and Senate Leaders Reach Budget Deal
Governor Mary Fallin, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman and House Speaker Jeff Hickman today announced an appropriated state budget agreement for Fiscal Year 2015.

The agreement increases funding for K-12 education by $80 million and uses targeted spending cuts and a reconciliation of several state agency accounts to close a $188 million shortfall in funds certified for appropriations. It avoids cuts to priority areas like public safety, higher education and mental health while making necessary spending reductions in other areas of state government.

The $80 million increase to common education funding for FY 15 adds to the $74 million in additional K-12 funding added in FY 14, bringing a total of new common education funding to $154 million in the past two fiscal years.

"We have gone to extraordinary lengths - even with a sluggish revenue year - to add substantial new resources to common education in Oklahoma," Fallin said.

The agreement would set a FY 15 appropriated budget of $7,121,723,873, which is $102.1 million, or 1.4 percent, less than the FY 2014 appropriated budget, which is $7,223,824,517 with supplemental funding included.

The agreement increases the Department of Human Services budget by $44.6 million to continue sufficient funding of the Pinnacle Plan, the multi-year program aimed at improving the state's child welfare services, and other initiatives.

It also includes $36.8 million for pay raises for 12,378 state employees, including corrections workers, state Highway Patrol troopers, child welfare workers, and the state's most underpaid employees as identified by the state's recent comprehensive employee compensation study.

The agreement would also authorize $110 million in supplemental funding for FY 14 in order to provide ad valorem reimbursement to local school districts, reduce provider rate cuts and service interruptions at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, address operational needs at the Department of Corrections, continue drought relief efforts, and maintain state property assets.

Governor Mary Fallin:

"This is a responsible, realistic budget that makes tough, necessary cuts while adequately funding core government services. Writing the budget is our most important task, so the Legislature and I worked overtime this year to free up existing state resources to support top state priorities, even with a challenging revenue situation. Still, in a year with $188 million less to appropriate, we must continue to ask agencies to focus on eliminating waste and operating more efficiently.

"I have always believed it was important - no matter the circumstances - to deliver more funding to Oklahoma public schools. The $80 million increase in K-12 funding shows that we are committed to supporting our teachers and improving education for Oklahoma children, even during tough budget times.

"I'm also proud to deliver a budget that will help to improve safety measures for children in state custody, adequately fund the state's eight-year transportation plan, and deliver pay raises to some public employees who have long been underpaid. My thanks go out to our legislators for working successfully with me and with each other on a responsible and realistic fiscal roadmap for the state."

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman:

"We knew from day one this session would be difficult fiscally. This budget protects core government services like education, public safety, transportation and health care, while making strategic cuts to other areas of government in order to balance our budget. Unlike Washington D.C., we have to balance our budget each year, which in a year with a $188 million shortfall requires tough decisions. Agencies have known all year they would have to do more with less and we know many have proactively begun to operate more efficiently in anticipation of these necessary and expected cuts. We were able to protect core services and continue our commitment to improving our state's education system-given the budgetary challenges I think the people of Oklahoma can be proud of this budget."

House Speaker Jeff Hickman:

"Great effort has gone into this budget to protect public safety and ensure that we address compensation issues for state employees including State Troopers, Department of Corrections employees and child welfare workers. This budget also reflects the House of Representatives' dedication to properly funding and improving education in Oklahoma. This year's increase will further our goal of securing sufficient funds to promote student success and direct dollars to Oklahoma classrooms. Our agreement will also put in place a plan to make long overdue repairs to the Capitol Building and includes an oversight committee to ensure the project is completed in an efficient and fiscally conservative manner."



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