Breaking With Fallin, Stitt Allows Consolidation Study Over Lapse, Keeping Campaign Promise

Wednesday, April 17th 2019, 11:20 am
By: Grant Hermes

Governor Kevin Stitt (R) chose to break with his predecessor and make good on a campaign promise this week by allowing an executive order on classroom and administrative funding to lapse. 

Former Governor Mary Fallin (R) issued the executive order last spring, ordering the state Department of Education to study administrative spending to find waste or face consolidating some of the states more than 500 school districts.

The order was issued at the height of debate over whether to raise taxes to pay for teacher pay or slash district costs. Many supporters of Fallin’s order alleged there was money to be found and used by consolidating districts and combining administrative positions.

At the time, the order was the spark for a very public feud between State superintendent Joy Hofmeister and Fallin. Hofmeister called the order "deeply flawed" and the Department of Ed's attorney said Fallin lacked the authority to tell the department to conduct the study.

During the campaign then candidate Stitt said school consolidation should be discussed and carried out at the local level not the state level by not renewing this executive order he is essentially ensuring that's how any consolidation would work.

By state law executive orders from previous governors have to be renewed by the end of a new governor's first 90 days in office. A non-renewal of the executive order does not mean Stitt still can't issue his own order calling for a study into consolidation but right now it's unclear if he would issue an order like that.

Stitt has called for a $95 million increase for education funding which is a far cry from the $440 million increase asked for by the department of Ed. Lawmakers have until the end of session on May 31 to fund education.