Claremore Daily Progress

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May 2, 2013

Legislators, governor reach deal on budget

OKLAHOMA CITY —

Leaders in the Republican-controlled Legislature reached an agreement Thursday with Gov. Mary Fallin on how to divide about $7 billion in available revenue among various state agencies.
Fallin declined to release specific details of the agreement, but confirmed that a deal had been reached. 
A formal announcement with GOP leaders was scheduled Thursday afternoon.
The governor said the agreement reflected the priorities she stressed in her executive budget, which included major boosts in funding for public education and the state’s Medicaid and child welfare programs.
“We have reached an agreement on our priorities for the state and the funding sources for those,” Fallin said. 
“It’s a budget that is fair and doable and puts money toward important priorities like health, education and mental health services.”
House and Senate Republican both held caucus meetings Thursday morning to discuss the proposal, and House Speaker T.W. Shannon said the deal was well received by the rank-and-file members, although he declined to discuss the agreement further.
“I don’t want to speak out of turn,” Shannon, R-Lawton, told reporters. “We’ll have some details to share (Thursday afternoon).”
The $7 billion that was certified for legislators to dole out is about $217 million more than they spent on last year’s budget. 
Senate Democratic Leader Sean Burrage said “Once again, we are asking our hard working school teachers and administrators to do more with less.  While the Republicans who put this deal together will tout the ‘increased funding’ to education in this budget over last year, education is still getting $200 million less than they did in 2008. In the meantime, we have asked our schools to implement rigorous reforms aimed at improving the educational outcomes of Oklahoma’s children. But how can we expect our teachers, staff and administrators to be successful in these efforts when we refuse to give them the funds needed to accomplish what we are asking of them?”

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