Oklahoma lawmakers miss education budget deadline - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Oklahoma lawmakers miss education budget deadline

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Funding for Oklahoma classrooms was not set by the April 1 deadline. (KFOR) Funding for Oklahoma classrooms was not set by the April 1 deadline. (KFOR)

By BRENT SHARKY
KFOR-TV

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Almost one year after the statewide teacher walkout, educators in Oklahoma City  are speaking out after legislators failed to meet their April 1 deadline for passing a common education budget.

"We are going to be pushing them to make sure that we get it right, because our kids are depending on it," said Oklahoma Education Association president Alicia Priest. "We want them to get it right, and so this year they are taking more time to have those discussions."

To be fair, the April 1 deadline has only been met twice in the 16 years state law has required it. 

"Here at the Capitol, education has been talked about a lot," said state Sen. Carri Hicks (D-Oklahoma City). "But what has been missing is the funding piece."

And those discussions seem to hinge on where the increased funding will go, Sen. Ron Sharp (R-Shawnee) said:

"The main sticking point is when you have the House of Representatives and the governor both supporting a $1,200 increase in teacher salaries, yet on this side of the chamber, the Senate appears to be wanting to put that money into average daily membership -- which is the classroom -- so therefore that's a major sticking point."

Educators say this year's budget is not an either-or proposition.

"It takes overall funding to attract and recruit teachers and support staff, and we have to fund classes," Priest said. "It's not a priority; all of it is important for our kids."

"Last year, education continued to be a top campaign promise for so many candidates across the state," Hicks said. "I'm just  concerned that we have lost some of that direction."

Sen. Sharp said it remains still unclear how much money will be available for education from revenue sources like like new energy and marijuana taxes.

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