Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.
Beware the ides of March.
Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene 2
Yesterday, a bunch of people who support public education went to the Capitol and met with elected officials who support public education. Pictures were taken. Ideas were shared. Good times were had by all.
I stayed home and worked on household chores. I’ve had all the conversations I need to have with my representative and senator about public school funding. We all agree it’s a problem. They’re looking into it.
Since I missed yesterday’s event, I also missed out on the lecture from a freshman representative who doesn’t like our tone. From Red Dirt Report:
Rep. Scott Fetgatter (R-Tulsa) spoke to the group Tuesday morning dismissing their tone and rhetoric. During his face time with the group he said, “We pass the teacher pay raise, and immediately after passing the teacher pay raise the focus shifted from we want a pay raise to those idiots passed a pay raise, but they don’t have a way to fund it.”
The first-time Republican representative went on to explain, “Teachers from my district, that I am friends with immediately started beating me up on this issue.” He told members of the group that they do not fully understand the budget process.
Talking to teachers, he proceeded to use simple numbers to explain that the legislature is not in control of much of the state revenue citing; the legislature will only appropriate $6 out of $17 billion dollars this year.
Fetgatter then gave teachers a learning moment with this example; “If I gave you $3,000 to pay your bills for the month, you would be excited about that and then all the sudden you only get to choose where $900 of that goes because the rest of that is already going to be apportioned out.”
Thank goodness he gave that example. Most teachers wouldn’t know what to do with $3,000 a month, of course, because its well over what they take home.
Using Fetgatter’s example, though, I doubt very many teachers get to decide where even $900 a month goes. Try living on a teacher’s salary, especially with kids. I’ve been there and done that.
Or try running a school district, Rep. Fetgatter. Salaries alone consume 90 percent of our budget. We get to make choices between things like textbooks or new school buses. So please, lecture me.
Don’t get me wrong, Rep. Fetgatter. I don’t blame you. You’re brand new. You had no idea what you were inheriting when you ran for public office during one of the most highly publicized eras of educator activism this state has ever seen.
Rep. Fetgatter, I’m glad you were there. I’m glad you’re working on solving the revenue problems of this state before things get even worse. I don’t doubt your sincere frustration with getting lumped together with the members of last year’s Legislature who passed a budget built upon unrealistic funding projections.
To all the first-year Legislators at the Capitol: you are not responsible for this month’s version of State Aid Mystery Theatre, which superintendents received today:
Based on available funds, the State Aid formula payment for the month of March will be paid at the accumulative amount of 70.96 percent instead of the scheduled 72 percent of the current adjusted allocation. Revenue collections for the March State Aid payment are approximately $18.9 million short of the funds needed to make the scheduled 72 percent payment.
The March payment, available to districts on Thursday, March 16, is based on funds collected as of March 14, 2017. To calculate your payment, use the most current adjusted allocation times accumulated percentage minus paid to date equals the amount of payment. The amount of funds collected as of March 14, 2017 is presented below.
- Education Reform Revolving Fund (1017) Adjusted for Revenue Shortfall has collected 64.98 percent of the Adjusted Appropriated $657,802,801
- Common Education Technology Fund has collected 68.45 percent of the Appropriated $41,168,478
- FY17 Mineral Leasing Fund has collected 46.43 percent of the Appropriated $3,610,000
- General Revenue Adjusted Revenue Failure has collected 72.96 percent of the Adjusted Appropriated $1,027,324,288.95
- FY17 OK Lottery Fund has collected 77.20 percent of the Appropriated $23,397,757
Your Notice of Payment report can be found under Payment Notices in Single Sign On at https://sdeweb01.sde.ok.gov/SSO2/Signin.aspx. For your convenience, a report showing the 72 percent compared to the 70.96 percent is located under Important Notices on the State Aid Web page at http://sde.ok.gov/sde/state-aid .
We will be closely monitoring each month’s cash and make adjustments as needed. If you have questions, please contact State Aid.
I blame the Ides of March. Actually, I should know better than to open email on this day. How many years did I teach Julius Caesar to excited high school sophomores? Nothing good can come of it!
More cuts are coming during the remaining months of this fiscal year because the people in charge of the state’s budget spent the last several years cutting taxes to the point that we can’t run our state. Since you’re new, you’ll probably hear some of your colleagues, and maybe some members of the governor’s staff, explain that the problem is entirely because of low prices in oil and gas. You might even hear a murmur about online shopping.
Maybe, if you’re fortunate, you’ve even run into someone from the Greater OKC Chamber passing out details about their better plan for funding education.
Just remember, state law requires the Legislature to fund education by April 1 of the preceding year. Rob Miller has a few thoughts on that:
Failure to pass an education budget by April 1st will cause the wrath of the God to fall upon your head. You’ll have to work Fridays. Your shoelaces will not stay tied. You will gain weight for no reason. The hair from your head will move to your back. You’ll develop a painful rash in a delicate area of your body. Rabid squirrels will invade your home and procreate with your Shih Tzu. You will be stuck for eight hours in an elevator with a large man with horrible body odor and severe flatulence. Food in your refrigerator will mysteriously spoil. Your bank accounts will be hacked by a Nigerian Prince. Your mother-in-law will move into the guest room permanently. Your car will start making that expensive knocking sound again and no one will talk to you at parties.
What it comes down to is that if you do your jobs, we’ll tone down the rhetoric. If you don’t, I’ll be cutting again – more than the 100 jobs we had to reduce for this school year.
That said, I have no opinion thus far on how effective the 2017 Legislature will be. I won’t until the session ends.