Without a doubt, no one agency, no one elected official ever gets everything they want in the budget. But I believe when you take into account the priorities we outlined at the beginning of the session and our desire to strengthen our state’s core services, the 2020 fiscal year budget is the top achievement of what has been an extremely positive and productive legislative session.
Providing more funding for education has been a top priority throughout this legislative session, and the 2020 budget will include a $203 million dollar increase for our public schools, higher education institutions and career-tech centers. This includes $157.7 million for common education, which will provide for an average $1,220 teacher pay raise, $5.5 to fully fund the Reading Sufficiency Act and $74.3 million for local schools to use to hire additional teachers, counselors or address other needs in their districts.
Our career-techs will receive $18 million to increase pay for teachers and employees, and higher education will receive $28 million to boost research programs and provide a salary increase for faculty.
The budget will fully fund the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s 8-year plan, and we’ve restored $30 million in funding to a program supporting county roads and bridges.
Public safety is another core area that will receive targeted investments, including funding for two new trooper academies to put an estimated 80 additional troopers on the roads in 2020. The budget also includes funding for a $2 per hour pay increase for correctional officers, which is a 14 percent raise—this will bring their pay to the regional market average and help DOC better recruit to fill vacancies in Oklahoma prisons. The budget also includes additional investments in criminal justice which will ultimately save our state money through common sense reforms.
This budget also includes additional funding for healthcare, including funds to support physician training for rural hospitals and for our county health departments.
All of our core services of government are delivered by state employees. This budget agreement will build on last year’s pay raises. Last year, depending on their income levels, state workers received up to $2,000. This year they will receive an additional raise of up to $1,500.
Additional funds will also be set aside for emergency savings to better prepare us for future economic downturns, and to strengthen legislative oversight of agency budgets.
Rural Oklahoma will benefit from an additional $1.1 million for wildfire mitigation and additional resources for rural firefighters, as well as $1.5 million to improve rural flood control damns.
These are just some of the highlights of this budget agreement, which I feel does an excellent job of prioritizing our state’s greatest needs.
Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to be your voice in the Oklahoma Senate. Please feel free to contact my Capitol office with any questions or concerns you may have about legislation or other issues impacting our state at 405.521.5628 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.