Gov. Fallin signs multi-billion budget into law

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OKLAHOMA CITY –  Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a budget bill that appropriates billions of dollars for state agencies.

Touted as the state’s largest budget, SB 1600 appropriates more than $7.5 billion to state agencies. It passed the Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday before passing the Oklahoma House by a vote of 63-31 on Friday.

"In all honesty, there’s no such thing as a perfect budget but I want to tell you this is a really good budget. It’s the best budget I’ve seen since I’ve been here," said budget chairman Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston.

Under SB1600, no agency will face cuts. The bill appropriates the following:

    • Oklahoma State Department of Education: $2.9 billion
    • Oklahoma Healthcare Authority: $1.1 billion
    • Oklahoma Department of Human Services: $729 million
    • Oklahoma Department of Corrections: $517 million.

"There are things about this that we’ve never seen before. This is the highest budget we’ve ever had in the state and for education," said Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell.

On Monday, Gov. Fallin signed the budget bill into law.

“The budget includes many of the priorities I have called for in my annual State of the State address to lawmakers the past three years. Core services of state government are prioritized throughout the budget. It provides for a teacher pay raise and additional funding for public schools as well as increased funding for mental health and corrections to implement criminal justice reform measures. The legislation also includes additional revenue growth to put Oklahoma on a stable foundation, and reduces reliance on one-time funds.

“The budget includes a 19.8 percent increase for common education, the largest appropriation for public schools in state history. The appropriation includes $353 million to fund teacher pay raises that average $6,100 per teacher, which move Oklahoma teacher from last in the seven-state region to second for average annual pay, and from 49th in the nation to 29th. When taking into account the cost of living, Oklahoma teachers will be the 12th-highest-paid in the country. It also has $52 million for support personnel pay raises, $24 million for flex health benefits; $33 million for textbooks, and $17 in new funding for the school funding formula.

“This budget includes $11 million for multiple criminal justice reform measures, such as:

-$5 million to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services - $4 million to fund risk/needs assessments, and $1 million to drug and mental health treatment courts.

-$4.8 million to the Department of Corrections to fund a new system that will allow the agency to track and monitor offenders on probation in one system, and will allow for shared data regarding offenders to be shared in one database statewide.

-$500,000 for the Pay for Success program, which reduces the number of women sent to prison and the resulting impact incarceration has on their children.

“The budget also includes about $23 million for the Department of Human Services to help Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens. This will fully fund the Pinnacle Plan, which calls for improving services to our children in state custody, and restoring provider rates that had been cut, as well as addressing those on the Developmental Disabilities Service Division waiting list.

“For the first time in years, no agency is receiving a cut. This budget provides a long-term solution to the re-occurring budget deficits and helps reduce the reliance on one-time funds. The people of Oklahoma expect excellence and demand we solve our state’s problems. This budget provides an opportunity to bring forth an enduring reality for a promising future.” – Governor Mary Fallin.

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