Monday, March 30, 2015
OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Mary Fallin and legislative leaders today thanked thousands of teachers, superintendents and education activists for coming to the Oklahoma Capitol, where they rallied in support of public education.
“Our educators have one of the most difficult and important jobs out there,” said Fallin. “I appreciate their service to the state and their commitment to our children. It’s great to see so many of them out here today getting involved in education policy.”
Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman also praised the education community.
“We are very fortunate to have so many talented teachers and administrators,” said Bingman. “Our educators have a tremendous impact on the lives of Oklahomans, and we are all better for their efforts. I am grateful to our teachers for all they do to give young Oklahomans the tools they need to succeed in every facet of their lives.”
House Speaker Jeffrey Hickman touted the Legislature’s support of education.
“The House is dedicated to improving opportunities for Oklahoma students to be successful and has worked for more than a decade to remove unnecessary mandates and improve the classroom learning environment,” said Hickman. “The Legislature has increased education funding the past two years despite budget shortfalls, and has supported Oklahoma’s commitment to creating rigorous academic standards to ensure graduates are college and career ready. Total education funding in our state is more than half of our annual budget and clearly reflects the priority Oklahoma places on education.”
In her State of the State address earlier this year, Fallin named improving educational attainment as one of the most important issues facing the state today. She said she supported increasing resources for public schools, rigorous standards, and more robust public/private partnerships to improve the quality of education and improve education outcomes.
“Nothing is more important to the future of this state than education,” said Fallin. “This is about empowering our children, setting them up for success, and boosting Oklahoma’s long term growth and prosperity. Individual Oklahomans need a good education and skill-set to succeed in today’s competitive economy, and businesses need a skilled and well-educated workforce.”
Many of the activists at the Capitol today said they supported more funding for K-12 schools. Fallin said she agreed that Oklahoma schools need more resources, pointing out that she had worked with the Legislature to increase appropriated dollars for K-12 schools by over $160 million since Fiscal Year 2013.
“I am proud to have worked to put over $160 million of new money into K-12 education over the last few years, and I agree we can do more,” said Fallin. “With a $611 million budget shortfall this year, many agencies are going to take cuts. I am committed, however, to protecting K-12 education from those cuts as much as possible.”
More on Education Funding
· Total dollars spent on K-12 education in the state of Oklahoma (including state, federal and local) have increased from $7.1 billion in FY 2008 to $8.4 billion in FY 2014 (see attached spreadsheet provided by the State Department of Education Oklahoma Cost Accounting System).
· Approximately 51% of legislative appropriations are spent on education
· State appropriated funding for K-12 education has increased by over $160 million in the last three years, by far the largest area of increased spending in state government. That includes:
o a $17 million supplemental in FY 2013 to fund teacher health benefits and other K-12 expenses
o a $74 million increase in FY 2014
o an $80 million increase in FY 2015
· When adjusted for cost of living, Oklahoma teacher-pay ranks 39th in the country