By Sen. Roger Thompson
The $2,912,348,009 common education budget is the highest in the history of the state. It is an increase of $480,188,940 over the previous year's budget of $2,432,159,067. The budget includes $353,501,793 for the teacher pay increase, $52,000,000 for support pay, $50 million for textbooks and state aid and $24,687,149 for flex benefits.
Thompson Roger 1I was proud to support this revenue package and our hardworking teachers and school support staff and I will continue to do so. This was a step in the right direction but our work isn’t done. We must continue strengthening our schools in the coming years.
Teachers will receive an average $6,100 raise. Some of the state's most experienced teachers will receive an $8,800 raise. This raise places Oklahoma teachers as number two in the region, #28 nationally and #11 in the nation when cost of living is factored in.
The legislature passed several measures for the reoccurring revenue. New revenue measures include: (1) capping itemized deductions at $17,000 excluding charitable and medical deductions; (2) Raising gross production from 2 percent to 5 percent; (3) Adding a three cent tax to gasoline and a six cent tax to diesel; (4) Adding $1.00 per pack to cigarettes and taxing little cigars the same as cigarettes; (5) Fairness in Market Place sales, taxing third party online vendors and (6) Modernizing gaming to allow ball and dice.
The total annualized apportioned amount of reoccurring revenue from all of these measures is $572,985,258. Deducting all of the above education expenses and adding $63,765,398 for a state employee raise leaves a balance of $29,030,918. When the Governor signed the education budget setting the new minimum pay scale into law, the old minimum pay scale was repealed.
Legislators are continuing to work on the remainder of the budget. The Department of Corrections has requested an $8.7 million supplemental to finish the budget year. DOC is at 114 percent capacity with growing expenses. DOC's total budget last year was $482 million.
The federal government also pulled back $30 million that was used for the physician training facilities at OU and OSU. In addition to the $30 million, the federal government notified the state of a loss of $110 million for the next fiscal year. The $110 million will be added to the Healthcare Authority bringing their total budget to around $1 billion.
There are many other fiscal needs among our state agencies that must be addressed as well. The legislature has until the last Friday in May to complete its work.
If you have any questions or concerns, I can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (405) 521-5588. You can also write me at the state Capitol at Sen. Roger Thompson, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Room 233, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.