Three senate committee chairmen have written a letter to President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman and Appropriations Chairman Clark Jolley seeking to increase common education funding by $75 to $100 million for fiscal year 2014. Senators Jim Halligan, Chairman of the Education Subcommittee, John Ford, Chairman of Education, and Mike Mazzei, Finance Chairman, said after meeting with local school superintendents and State Superintendent Janet Barresi, they are convinced increased education funding must be the top priority when writing the 2014 budget.
“We understand that there are competing needs, but in the final analysis, we believe additional funding for common education for the coming fiscal year must be among our highest priorities,” said Halligan. “The targeted investments we make in our schools now are going to pay dividends for years to come, for our students and for our entire state.”
“We have three areas in education we must address, including statutory requirements to fund programs such as medical benefits, additional appropriations to pay for reforms we’ve already enacted, and additional funding at the local level that school boards can use to address specific needs in their individual districts,” said Ford of Bartlesville.
Tulsa's Mazzei said thanks to a growing economy and increasing revenue collections, education funding can be a top priority while also addressing tax relief for hard-working Oklahomans.
“Cutting taxes and increasing education funding is not an either/or proposition,” said Mazzei. “By reforming the tax code, we can do both—and ultimately we’ll see a larger tax base that will produce even greater revenues for education.”