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State Has $140.8M For Agencies, Fallin Considers Special Session For Teacher Pay Raise

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland

Oklahoma midyear state budget cuts were deeper than necessary, and now the state has $140.8 million that it can allocate to agencies. Gov. Mary Fallin is considering calling a special session of the legislature to use those funds to give teachers a pay raise.

The Office of Management and Enterprise Services released its final General Revenue Fund collection numbers for Fiscal Year 2016 on Wednesday. The midyear revenue failures resulted in cuts of $412 million, or seven percent. The state’s final revenue reconciliation indicates the midyear cut should have been $272 million, according to an OMES press release.

“I’ve begun discussions with legislative leaders to consider calling lawmakers to return in special session to address the issue of teacher pay raises,” Fallin wrote in a statement. “I continue to support a pay raise for teachers, having called on lawmakers at the beginning of this year’s session to approve a teacher pay raise. Lawmakers considered it, but this was an extremely difficult budget year and a funding agreement couldn’t be reached. With this available money, I am again asking lawmakers to act on this important issue of providing a raise for every teacher in this state.”

Total collections for FY 2016 totaled $5.2 billion, or 9.4 percent lower than the official estimate that was used to create the state budget, and 9.1 percent below the previous fiscal year.

“Many agencies have needs, but the fact is this money would do more good for Oklahoma in the form of a teacher pay raise than it would equally distributed to agencies,” OMES Director and Secretary of Finance, Administration and Information Technology Preston Doerflinger wrote in a statement. “A lot of agencies – mine, for one – simply don’t have as compelling a case for the money as education, particularly our teachers.”

If the legislature does not go into special session, the $140.8 would be equally distributed to state agencies that receive general revenue allocations.

Jacob McCleland spent nine years as a reporter and host at public radio station KRCU in Cape Girardeau, Mo. His stories have appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Here & Now, Harvest Public Media and PRI’s The World. Jacob has reported on floods, disappearing languages, crop duster pilots, anvil shooters, Manuel Noriega, mule jumps and more.
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