SDE: Senators' Request for Additional Education Funding Praised

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Sherry Fair
Communications Director
405-521-4894, 405-761-9372

Tricia Pemberton
Communications Specialist
405-521-3371, 405-431-7195-cell

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Senators' Request for Additional Education Funding Praised

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 14, 2013) – State Superintendent Janet Barresi made the following statement Thursday morning after hearing news that Senators Jim Halligan, John Ford, and Mike Mazzei are seeking to increase common education funding by $75 to $100 million for fiscal year 2014.

“We applaud these leaders for putting a priority on education,” Barresi said. “To have a vibrant economy and future workforce that is college, career and citizen ready we must stay the course regarding the recently enacted educational reforms. Our school districts must have dedicated resources for effective implementation of the reforms as well as discretionary funding at the local level.”

Barresi said this was a wonderful Valentine's present.

Sen. Halligan, Chairman of the Education Subcommittee, Sen. Ford, Chairman of Education, and Sen. Mazzei, Finance Chairman, on Wednesday, wrote a letter to President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman and Appropriations Chairman Clark Jolley seeking to increase common education funding by $75 to $100 million for fiscal year 2014.

The lawmakers said the letter is the result of meetings with local superintendents and Barresi, which convinced them increased education funding must be the top priority when writing the 2014 budget. 

“We understand that there are competing needs, but in the final analysis, we believe additional funding for common education for the coming fiscal year must be among our highest priorities,” said Halligan, R-Stillwater.  “The targeted investments we make in our schools now are going to pay dividends for years to come, for our students and for our entire state.”

“We have three areas in education we must address, including statutory requirements to fund programs such as medical benefits, additional appropriations to pay for reforms we’ve already enacted, and additional funding at the local level that school boards can use to address specific needs in their individual districts,” said Ford, R-Bartlesville.

Mazzei said thanks to a growing economy and increasing revenue collections, education funding can be a top priority while also addressing tax relief for hard-working Oklahomans.

“Cutting taxes and increasing education funding is not an either/or proposition,” said Mazzei, R-Tulsa. “By reforming the tax code, we can do both—and ultimately we’ll see a larger tax base that will produce even greater revenues for education.”