Statement on state budget negotiations

Statement from Oklahoma State School Boards Association Executive Director Shawn Hime:

“I’ve been optimistic this session that state leaders would live up to their public statements in support of public education and increased teacher pay. That optimism is quickly fading. We need bold leadership now.

Legislators and state leaders need to quit having press conferences, stay off social media, quit wasting time and get in a room together to work out a budget that’s best for Oklahoma. We can’t afford another year of stop-gap budget measures that fail to stop the bleeding. Just last night, school boards across the state cut millions from their budgets that will leave children with fewer educational opportunities. This is no way to run a state.

All of the plans introduced for votes to date fall woefully short of what Oklahoma needs to return to stable financial ground. The final budget must:

·         Include $1 billion in recurring revenue;

·         Have minimum common education and career technology appropriation levels at least equal to the initial FY17 budget and also covers the state’s required payment for teacher health insurance; and

·         Include additional funding for a multi-year teacher pay raise so Oklahoma schools can compete with our surrounding states and the private sector for the best and brightest teachers.

Oklahomans are counting on real solutions to the state’s budget challenges. Don’t let our children down.”