In 1990, the Legislature passed and Oklahomans supported House Bill 1017, Gov. Henry Bellmon’s Education Reform Act. The measure increased taxes to finance higher teacher pay and smaller class sizes.
Leaders promised that “never again” would the state face a funding crunch for public education. On this week’s Capitol Report, Patrick B. McGuigan pointed out that the Bellmon reforms included incentives for “voluntary consolidation,” which never came to pass. Pointing to the statewide “Education Lottery” and “MAPS for Kids” in Oklahoma City, McGuigan told News9 reporter Alex Cameron that funding patterns have led to education garnering 51 percent of the budget.
A recent agreement to pull $51 million from the “Rainy Day Fund” money means that the pattern of funding with few reforms continues, even in the midst of the state’s major revenue shortfall.
In other news, McGuigan applauded former Gov. Brad Henry, Republican attorney Andy Lester and retired Appeals Court Judge Reta Strubhar for forming a Death Penalty Review Commission. McGuigan called for government officials to sustain a moratorium on executions until the bipartisan commission finishes its work.
NOTE: Technical difficulties prevented us from posting this edition of Capitol Report earlier. Sorry for the delay.