Gov. Mary Fallin and Republican legislative leaders say they've reached an agreement to provide emergency funding for public schools and the state's prison system to complete the current fiscal year.
Fallin scheduled a news conference late Wednesday with House Speaker Jeff Hickman and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman to discuss details of the agreement.
Fallin announced earlier this week plans to tap the state's Rainy Day Fund for $51 million in funding for public schools and $27.5 million for the Department of Corrections.
But Hickman said Tuesday some House Republicans were concerned about taking that much money from the reserve fund, which has a current balance of $385 million. Hickman noted that money will be needed to shore up next fiscal year's $1.3 billion shortfall.
If the plan is approved by the Legislature, that will leave about $307 million in the Rainy Day Fund to help fill a $1.3 billion budget hole for the upcoming fiscal year.
Department of Corrections Director Joe M. Allbaugh released the following statement regarding the announcement:
“First and foremost, I appreciate Governor Fallin, House Speaker Jeff Hickman, Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman, as well as the appropriations leadership including Sen. Clark Jolley and Rep. Earl Sears along with the other members of the legislature for working together and recognizing the dire situation at the Department of Corrections.
This money will allow us to maintain essential services, make payroll, pay for our contracted services and avoid a reduction in staffing in order to continue to protect the public.
This is a step in the right direction. Moving forward, I will continue an open line of communications with the governor’s office as well as the members of the legislature as we come up with a long-term plan for the department.”