While I can appreciate to some degree that Gov. Mary Fallin’s latest budget proposal offers increases for education funding next fiscal year it falls far short in providing schools truly adequate financial resources.
In addition, the different components of her proposal represent a problem in itself just for its sheer multiplicity and perhaps intentional and unnecessary complication and obfuscation and there is absolutely no guarantee any of it will get passed or even considered by the Oklahoma Legislature.
Politically, it does allow Fallin to claim she’s trying to stave off a growing education disaster and thus head off support for State Question 779, a ballot initiative that would raise the state sales tax by one penny, which would exclusively raise funding for education by $615 million annually and give much needed $5,000 raises to teachers. Perhaps, all Fallin’s proposal was intended to do was to ensure Oklahoma teachers don’t get raises now or for years to come.
I think it’s very intentional and highly calculated that Fallin trotted out her new plan-to-nowhere as a large group of educators were registering to run for the legislature this election and getting their group photo snapped near the do-nothing-but-cray-cray Republican-dominated Oklahoma House and Senate.
Records: Impending State Budget Cuts May Be Larger: The state agency cuts in Gov. Mary Fallin’s budget proposal… https://t.co/owuHwdGIt3
— Black Tulsa (@blcktulsa) April 15, 2016
Conservatives broke Oklahoma and they want to hide it during this election year.
Oklahoma faces a massive teacher shortage even as schools announce they are eliminating positions. Schools are cutting school days and considering four-day week schedules. This is all because of cuts to education that have devastated our public school system since 2008, and especially this year. The state is currently in a revenue failure, and it faces a $1.3 billion budget shortfall for next fiscal year, which begins in July.
Fallin’s budget proposal, as outlined in the media, would increase funding for education, the Health Care Authority, the Department of Human Services and the Mental Health and Substance Abuse agency. This would somehow be accomplished through a hodgepodge of ending some sales tax exemptions, using bond issues to fund roadwork, and changing the tax code. Other money would supposedly be raised through changing some state accounting procedures and eliminating funding for some state agencies that can generate their own operational funding. Rest assured, Oklahoma’s most vulnerable people and educators will suffer the most under her plan.
Go through the articles to which I’ve linked in this post for more specific information. I actually feel that’s an exercise in futility because, as I mentioned, there is absolutely no publicly stated consensus among legislators over any of her proposals and the numbers are going to change as revenues continue to plummet. It’s worthless, but, by all means, parse through if you must. I did. It’s nonsense. I see Fallin’s proposal and press conference as more of a political stunt than anything else, although I concede one or two of the ideas have potential to gain traction.
Oklahoma House Speaker Jeff Hickman’s quoted response to the proposal, according to one article, used the term “probably somewhat optimistic.” That’s not a good sign for the proposal’s future, even if you think Fallin’s proposal has a good idea or two. Later responses on the GOP side were even harsher. Democrats simply scoffed at it, which was the appropriate response
It’s an election year. The more those Republicans up for reelection can hide or obfuscate the damage they have inflicted on the state then the better chance they have in November.
I think public schools here should brace for more huge cuts for next year. The conservatives did this. They broke Oklahoma.
— NewsOK (@NewsOK) April 14, 2016
On a brighter note, so many educators are running for legislative office this election year in order to bring some sensibility back to Oklahoma government. This is good news, of course, but my only quibble is that the overall movement hasn’t coalesced under what is glaringly true: The conservatives broke Oklahoma.
This is how conservatives broke Oklahoma: They passed income tax cuts that primarily benefited the rich. They gave massive tax cuts to the oil and gas industry. They served as the main cheerleaders for the “drill, baby, drill” mantra that helped to create a worldwide fossil fuel glut that has dropped prices and significantly and suddenly reduced state revenues from gross production taxes.
The simple truth is that it will take liberal, progressive policies to restore sanity back to our state government.
— StandforChildren OK (@OklahomaStand) April 14, 2016