OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma State Senate today voted in favor of a $714,190 supplemental appropriation for the Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee and the Oklahoma School for the Deaf in Sulphur, but without enough support for an emergency clause. That clause was necessary to make the legislation effective immediately upon the Governor's signature. Otherwise, those schools would have to wait 90 days after adjournment before receiving the appropriation.
Senator Robert M. Kerr, Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Human Services explained the schools are facing a financial crisis.
"These are the only residential schools in Oklahoma serving deaf and blind children. The fact is they only have enough money left in their budgets to keep their doors open for about one more month. I'm very disappointed that there are those who would choose to play partisan politics with these children's lives," said Senator Kerr.
Senator Kerr explained the schools were facing a budget shortfall due to the cost of bond debt service payments. "Each of those schools received approximately $6.75 million for capitol improvements that were desperately needed for safety reasons, including fire prevention, roof and other structural repairs. But it shouldn't be a situation where they are forced to choose between paying their teachers, feeding their students or making sure the roof doesn't collapse," added Kerr.
Just last week the House of Representatives approved a supplemental appropriations bill that included funding for the schools for the deaf and blind, but they also failed to gain the votes necessary to approve the emergency clause.
"I'm determined to continue our efforts to get this emergency funding, but Oklahomans need to realize that the more than 200 students that depend on these schools are depending on the legislature to do the right thing," said Kerr.