OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and other legislative leaders announce an emergency funding agreement to help the Department of Education and the Department of Corrections for the current 2016 fiscal year.
This comes amid a 1.3 billion dollar budget shortfall.
The governor announced the Senate, House and her office reached an agreement to tap into the state's Rainy Day fund.
The Department of Education is expected to receive $51 million, and the Department of Corrections will receive approximately $27.5 million.
"All of us can agree that four-day school weeks and draconian cuts to corrections are not acceptable and are not going to happen,” said Fallin. “This is the most responsible option available to keep vital state services for education and corrections going between now and the end of June when this fiscal year ends.”
“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,” said DOC Director Joe Allbaugh. “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.
Allbaugh said the money will be used for make payroll, pay for contracted services and avoid a reduction in staffing levels through the end of Fiscal Year 2016 which ends in June.
"This agreement will be of great help for schools already facing serious budget challenges due to the economic downturn, “ said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “Thanks to the quick and decisive action of the governor and Republican legislative leadership, it is our hope that districts will not have to take such drastic measures as a four-day school week.”
“The Rainy Day Fund is there for emergencies and right now it’s pouring in Oklahoma. Tapping the Rainy Day Fund is the right way to lessen the impact of these cuts on students and teachers, and prevents dramatic cuts at prisons. I appreciate the governor and speaker for working with the Senate on a plan to help protect these core functions of government,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman.
Oklahoma House Speaker Hickman said: "Last year we had $611 million less to build our budget than the year before and we didn’t cut funding for our public schools. That meant higher cuts to other agencies in order to not cut education, but protecting education as a priority was the tough decision the Republican leadership of this state made. This agreement today builds on the commitment to the students in schools across our state, as well as on our commitment to public safety and ensuring a safe Oklahoma."