As legislative session winds down, Oklahoma lawmakers scramble to make budget deal
Oklahoma lawmakers are facing a deadline to finish their work in the next three weeks.
The most important duty of the legislature is crafting a budget for the 2020 fiscal year, which starts on July 1. But, so far, nothing has been released. Oklahoma House Appropriations and Budget Chairman Kevin Wallace read some highlights and new developments below.
On Common Education
“It’s been a priority of the Governor and the House to give the teachers a pay raise of $1,200 to get them up in the standings in the regional average. It’s still very important to our caucus. The debate is still going on about just putting the money in the formula or giving an across-the-board teacher pay raise. I think it’s very important that we do that and we still want to put additional money in the formula above and beyond the teacher pay raise.”
On State Worker and Corrections Worker Pay Raises
“Currently, we’re on a path (that) DOC workers will get a pay raise this year, no matter what. Whatever we do on the state pay raise side will actually affect DOC, because we won’t double pay raise DOC.”
On New Taxes
“There’s really been no talk of raising taxes on the citizens of Oklahoma. The economy is doing well…we do have a surplus of revenue. We need to be wise and save.”
Following our interview with Representative Wallace, Governor Kevin Stitt and Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat each held press conferences to talk about the ongoing budget talks.
Governor Stitt said Thursday that he still wants a $1,200 pay raise for teachers and is looking at raises for other state workers, but says he wants to build up state savings as well. Stitt said he expects several criminal justice reform measures to hit his desk soon. He also reiterated his opposition to a ballot measure to expand Medicaid and announced plans to unveil his health care plan in the fall.
Senator Treat told reporters Thursday that Senate Republicans will bring a plan to the Governor and the House that would put $200 million into public education, which included a $1,200 teacher pay raise and $130 million in classroom spending. He also said the Senate is committed to raising correction worker pay, but did not give details on pay raises for other state workers.