OKLAHOMA CITY – Last week at the state Capitol began with passage on a major tax increase, perhaps the largest in state history. It ended with state Senate approval of further education-designated revenue increases.
Governor Mary Fallin (on Wednesday, April 3) signed the $2.9 billion appropriation bill for common education for the upcoming 2019 fiscal year. The funding authorized in House Bill (H.B.) 3705 marks a 19.7 percent increase over the $2.4 billion appropriation bill for K-12 public education for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.
This is only the second time that legislators approved an appropriation bill for public schools by the required April 1 education funding deadline since 2003 when the requirement was put in place.
“I’m pleased to sign this bill that provides a significant increase in spending for our public school system,” said Fallin. “I’m hoping this additional funding will result in improved K-12 public school results. Our job as a state is to empower our students, parents and teachers to succeed by setting the bar high and challenging each other to succeed.”
The $2.9 billion contained in H.B. 3705 includes $353.5 million for teacher pay; $52 million for support personnel pay; $33 million for textbooks’ $17 million for the state aid formula; and $24.7 million for flex health care benefits.
The total increase in common education funding for the 2019 fiscal year is $480.2 million.
Fallin also signed HB 1026XX, a $1,250 annual increase in pay for school support personnel.
In addition, the governor signed HB 1024XX, which provides a tiered pay raise for state employees. State workers earning $40,000 or less would get a $2,000 raise; those being paid $40,000 to $50,000 would get a $1,500 raise. Meanwhile, those making $50,000 – $60,000 would get a $1,000 raise and those earning $60,000 or more would get a $750 raise.
All three measures take effect July 1, the start of the state’s 2019 fiscal year.
On Friday, April 6, the state Senate approved measures that will send millions of new dollars into Oklahoma classrooms.
The Senate gave approval to HB 1019xx, a bill that requires online marketplaces like Amazon to collect and remit sales tax to Oklahoma or comply with the state’s notification requirements. The Oklahoma Tax Commission estimates the bill will generate $20.5 million annually.
“The Oklahoma Senate has shown repeatedly its commitment to students and teachers first by passing the largest teacher pay raise in state history and now by approving measures providing millions of dollars in new funding for Oklahoma classrooms,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, R-Altus.
To fund the teacher pay raises and provide millions of dollars in funding for textbooks and teacher health care benefits, the Senate approved tax boosts generating $530 million in new, recurring.
The Senate on Friday also approved H.B. 3375, the so-called “ball and dice” gaming bill
For the current fiscal year, the Oklahoma Tax Commission cannot certify revenue generated by this bill. The Office of Management and Enterprise Services, the state’s gaming compliance agency, anticipates the measure will bring new revenue into the state.