Oklahoma lawmakers to look at plans on how to close nearly $870 million budget hole

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OKLAHOMA CITY - On Monday, lawmakers will look at plans to close a nearly $870 million budget hole.

The Oklahoma Legislature is faced with many familiar issues for 2017, like education all the way down to prison reform.

"In a year or two, I think we're going to have budget expansion. And, of course the pressure's going to be, well, to put the money back to where you cut it. But, I think our highest priority needs to be the teacher pay raise," Senator David Holt said.

Holt filed one bill proposing a $10,000 pay raise for every teacher in Oklahoma.

He filed 12 additional bills that would provide funding options for the raise.

Oklahoma's average teacher salary is less than $45,000 and among the lowest in the nation.

“I don't think there's a teacher out there that wouldn't be grateful to have $5,000 for an oversize classroom,” said State Representative Todd Russ.

State Representative Todd Russ' bill would require districts to pay teachers $1,000 extra per student over the cap, with a limit of $5,000 per teacher per year.

But education isn't the only topic we could hear from the governor come Monday when she delivers her state of the state address.

Oklahoma has waited too long to comply with Real ID Act and the state missed out on federal grants that would have paid for the equipment.

So now, the state has to find a solution after the extension in June or people won't be able to enter a military base or a federal building.

“I think we, as a state government, owe our citizens the ability to fly using an Oklahoma driver's license. I think that's minimum competency on our part,” Holt said.

While the state tries to find a solution on driver's licenses, more than 61,000 people are locked up or on supervision in a county jail.

"It costs $19,000 a year to incarcerate an individual in Oklahoma as opposed to $6,000 a year to provide treatment and supervision in the community,” said Kris Steele.

Last fall, voters decided to reduce penalties for some drug possession and theft crimes.

Those dollars would go to rehabilitation programs.

So far, there have been several bills to overturn the measures.

Other proposals include shortening criminal penalties for nonviolent drug offenders and offering parole to older inmates.

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