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On the State Budget Agreement

May 20, 2015

Yesterday when legislative leaders announced that they had come to an agreement on the state budget, in conjunction with the governor’s office, I immediately checked to see how education funding looked. We had been warned that with a $611 million hole in the state budget, we could expect cuts from two to four percent.

I was relieved to see that funding for public schools was held flat. Of course flat doesn’t mean even. More students, higher expenses, and the reduction of oil and gas production in the state mean that we’ll have less per pupil to spend during the 2015-16 fiscal year than we did this year. Still, flat was as good of an outcome as could be expected. Then again, the Horse Racing Commission was also held to flat funding.

It could be worse. Higher Education took a 2.44 percent cut. Career Tech took a 3.5 percent cut. And the State Ethics Commission took a 42 percent cut. See, flat funding isn’t so bad. In light of this, I’m not going to pick through the inconsistencies and try to make sense of them.


I will, however, reprint the words of State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, who released the following statement yesterday.

Supt. Hofmeister comments on state budget agreement

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 19, 2015) — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister made the following remarks in reaction to the recently announced state budget agreement:

“With Oklahoma in the midst of a serious revenue shortfall, I am thankful the Oklahoma State Department of Education budget was not reduced.

“It’s a severe disappointment that this agreement was unable to address a crippling teacher shortage that continues to negatively impact Oklahoma schoolchildren. The longer we fail to make our investment in common education a priority, the more likely it is we will pay economic and societal costs down the road. Our teachers deserve better than salaries that are among the lowest in the nation.

“In the months ahead we will renew our efforts to establish common education and our teachers as the very top of priorities for the children and citizens of Oklahoma.”

Again, I will not editorialize about the things they could have done differently to avoid the $611 million hole in the first place. That subject has been covered elsewhere.  It took a lot of hard work to hold funding for the House, the Senate, and the Legislative Service Bureau flat while cutting the Department of Transportation budget by 6.25 percent. With the cumulative cuts to education over the last seven or eight years, it’s probably even farsighted that the agreement increases funding for the Department of Corrections by nearly three percent.

The small, mostly term-limited group that worked behind closed doors to reach this budget agreement was thinking to the future. And apparently, the future is when we’ll begin to address the teacher shortage in Oklahoma. Bills on testing, teacher evaluation, and the A-F report cards have also yet to make any serious threats to earn a signature. This is all being saved for 2016, an election year, I suppose.

To paraphrase J. Peterman from Seinfeld,

incoherent drivel

Kudos on a job….done.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Jennifer
    June 3, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    This “shocking” shortfall is a self-inflicted wound. I have been amazed at all the Chicken Little talk and shock from legislative leaders, who are the very same people who continue to cut taxes of all sorts in this state. Of course we have a budget shortfall- that’s exactly what some want to have so they can justify cutting state services to the marrow. They are winning, and sadly our children, and democracy in this country are losing.


  1. September 13, 2015 at 6:35 pm
  2. December 17, 2015 at 10:56 pm
  3. December 21, 2015 at 11:21 am
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