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PM NewsBrief: May 26, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Friday, May 26, 2023.

Oklahoma's New Education Budget

The legislature’s battle over Oklahoma’s school funding has finally come to an end with the state adding about $800 million to the education budget.

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the funding package into law at a Thursday ceremony.

Stitt’s main focus was on the voucher-like tax credit part of the package, which would give public funds to families to use for private school and homeschool tuition and expenses.

“If a school has chose to close down, or maybe they're not teaching kids, they're trying to indoctrinate kids, or maybe they're just not performing well,” Stitt said. “Now that parent has a choice to take their kid, and we're gonna inject some competition into the system, which is going to be fantastic.”

Also in the package is a $3-6,000 teacher and certified staff raise, six weeks of paid maternity leave for teachers, a program to upgrade school security systems and another program to create a literacy instructional team stationed around the state.

Rural school funding was a major sticking point for House Republicans during the months-long stalemate, and though they didn’t get exactly what they wanted, rural schools are getting a boost to pay for things like buildings, infrastructure and transportation costs.

DOC Lifts Lockdown For All Correctional Facilities Except Dick Connor

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has lifted the lockdown on all facilities except one following a stabbing incident last week.

The department says the Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy will remain on lockdown until further notice.

The DOC is allowing structured movement of inmates, and visitation at all other Oklahoma correctional facilities beginning this weekend.

Correctional centers across the state went on lockdown last Friday after an inmate died from a stabbing at the Dick Conner Correctional Center.

OETA Veto Overridden

Oklahoma lawmakers took another look at several of the bills the governor vetoed amid an education funding standstill. Lawmakers overrode the veto that would have led to the end of Oklahoma’s public television broadcaster.

Big Bird fans can rest easy. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate voted to override the Governor’s veto that would have led to the end of Oklahoma’s public television broadcaster, OETA.

At the time of his veto - Gov. Kevin Stitt said that Oklahoma Educational Television Authority’s long-term strategic value was quote “unclear if not outright imagined.”

But lawmakers defended the public broadcaster known for airing programs like Sesame Street and NOVA. State law requires the agency to have its board’s authority renewed by the legislature every three years.

Lawmakers in both chambers overwhelmingly supported the veto override - with a supermajority vote both times.

Oklahoma City Is 6th Fastest Growing City In U.S.

Oklahoma City maintains its spot as the nation's 20th largest city, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau population estimate.

The city's growth has been consistent, and it is now recognized as the 6th fastest-growing city among the top 20 from 2020 to 2022.

Between those years Oklahoma City experienced a growth rate of nearly 2%, with the addition of about 14-thousand new residents.

OKC Mayor David Holt says he attributes the growth to quality-of-life improvements and ongoing development projects.

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