Oklahoma’s state superintendent is asking legislators to give schools more money next year. Joy Hofmeister is requesting an increase of $220 million in funding, despite a projected budget shortfall.
On Wednesday, Hofmeister made her case for the additional funds to Oklahoma House members ahead of the legislative session that begins next month. She told lawmakers the additional money is essential to keep up with a growing student population and increased health care costs. She also says schools desperately need new textbooks, and new teachers need more professional development.
“We're operating on the same dollars as 2008, in education, but with about 50,000 more students,” Hofmeister said.
Hofmeister is also requesting, as an addendum, $280 million to provide every teacher in the state with a pay raise of three thousand dollars.
“Even if we pass a teacher pay raise and we are regionally competitive, this is not a problem that fixes itself or can be turned around in one year,” Hofmeister said.
Legislators are hearing budget presentations from many state agencies in order to get background information for next year’s budget. Recent projections show the state will likely face an estimated $800 million dollar shortfall this year.