The Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday gave final approval to the state budget, which includes huge investments in public school classrooms, a teacher and state employee pay raise, as well as significant investments in criminal justice reforms all while saving $200 million.
The Fiscal Year 2020 budget bill, House Bill 2765, passed on a 37-11 vote.
“This is a tremendous budget for Oklahoma because it makes huge investments in our classrooms, gives teachers and state employees another significant pay raise, puts money toward criminal justice reforms, and saves $200 million to help in the event of an economic downturn in the future,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City. “Senate Republicans kept our commitment to invest in education by appropriating $74.4 million for our classrooms. We also addressed our priority to fund criminal justice reforms. The budget also shows fiscal restraint because we’re putting away $200 million in savings, bringing the state’s total amount of savings to $1 billion. I want to thank Senator Roger Thompson, the Senate appropriations chairman, for his hard work, skill, and leadership in crafting this budget deal. I also want to commend the senators who chaired Senate appropriations subcommittee for sharpening their pencils and helping put together a great budget.”
The budget now goes to Governor Kevin Stitt’s desk for consideration.
“Tough choices by the Legislature in recent years put our state in a much better financial position, and because of those decisions we had nearly $600 million in new funding to appropriate. This budget makes great use of those dollars by making a $157.9 million investment in public schools, which includes $74.4 million into our classrooms so local schools can hire more teachers to lower class sizes or purchase classroom supplies. Overall, this is a great budget that makes significant investments in critical services while saving $200 million to help when the inevitable economic downturn hits in the future. I want to thank the Senate appropriations subcommittee chairs who did a tremendous job in delving into the numbers to help us come up with a great budget deal,” said Senator Roger Thompson, R-Okemah.
Among the highlights of the FY’2020 budget include:
$200 million in savings to help Oklahoma weather a financial crisis; Oklahoma’s total savings at the end of this year will be $1 billion
o $157.9 million for common education:
- $1,220 teacher pay raise on average, second-consecutive year for a teacher pay raise.
- $5.5 million for the Reading Sufficiency Act.
- An additional $74.4 million for classroom funding for schools to hire additional teachers to lower class sizes, hire counselors or other support staff, or purchase classroom supplies.
o $18 million for the CareerTech system for pay raises and course additions.
o $28 million for higher education to bolster research programs and provide a professor pay raise.
o $7.5 million for concurrent enrollment
o $37.7 million for a state employee pay raise of up to $1,500, the second-consecutive year for a state employee pay raise.
o $1.7 million for the creation of the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT)
o $16.4 million for digital transformation of state government services to enhance transparency and to improve customer service.
o $700,000 to hire more auditors for the State Auditor’s Office to conduct more audits of state agencies.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORMS
o $20.1 million to reform the funding of District Attorney offices.
o $10 million for “Smart on Crime” programs through the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
o $1.5 million for the Women in Recovery diversion program.
o $1.7 million to expand drug courts options for nonviolent offenders.
o $62.8 million for Graduate Medical Education program to support physician training.
o $105 million reallocation to increase provider rates for physicians, hospitals and nursing homes.
o $29 million saved to a new preservation fund to preserve Medicaid provider rates when the federal government’s 3-year rolling average results in a rate decline.
o $2 million to decrease Developmental Disability Services (DDSD) wait list.
o $8 million to increase DDSD provider reimbursement rates by 4 percent.
o $4.6 million to increase immunizations and staff county health departments throughout the state.
o $500,000 to fund a public-private partnership to maintain clean water in Northeast Oklahoma and areas with high poultry density.
o $1.1 million for wildfire mitigation and additional resources for rural fire fighters.
o $1.5 million to improve rural flood control dams.