Gov. Stitt, Lawmakers Talk About Budget Deal Reached At State Capitol

Wednesday, May 15th 2019, 1:50 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

Lawmakers have reached an agreement on the state’s $8.2 billion budget. It includes across the board raises for teachers and state workers, and a large chunk of money being squirreled away in the state’s savings account. 

“I’m excited. I’m not even having to feign excitement this year,” said Senator Greg Treat (R) President Pro Tempore. 

The governor and leaders of the House and Senate announced the agreement Wednesday. It includes setting $200 million into a savings account.

“This is going to allow us at the end of this year to have one billion dollars in our savings account,” said Governor Stitt.

Representative Charles McCall (R) House Speaker added, “Not only a savings level, but a plan. A plan that remains solvent. A plan to prepare for the next downturn and contraction. Because we know it’s coming sometime.”

The plan also includes:

  • $1,300 annual raises for state workers.
  • $2 per hour raise for corrections officers.
  • $33 million investment in criminal justice reform.

“Investing in drug courts, diversion programs and we are going to be fully funding our district attorneys so they don’t have to rely on fines, fees and court costs anymore, and this is going to take away any perverse incentive that can contribute to debtors prison,” said Governor Stitt.

The budget also calls for a $203 million increase for public education that includes:

  • $74.3 million for schools to hire additional teachers and counselors
  • An average $1,200 dollar across the board raise for teachers

Governor Stitt said, “For the first time in state history, we are going to end up being the number one in teacher pay in our region.” 

Senator Treat added, “Last year, when we made the investment in education, we said it isn’t a one and done. We were committed for the long term. This budget represents that commitment.”

According to numbers provided by the House of Representatives, with this budget, the legislature has increased the common education budget by 26 percent over the past two years. 

Governor Stitt also said the state is fully funding the road and bridge program in hopes that Oklahoma will become a top 10 state in infrastructure.