The Pryor Times

Education

March 26, 2014

Bill boosts school funding

PRYOR, OK — The votes on House Bill 2642 came in at 15:1.

The bill creates a state treasury fund for the State Board of Education to be designated as the “Securing Educational Excellence Fund.”

“I co-authored this measure because, in a woeful legislative environment for public education, this measure is an attempt to "peel money off the top" for education.  At this point, I will support any measure which has a chance of placing additional funding into our public education system which has suffered some of the worst cuts in the nation under Republican control of the legislature,” said Rep. Ben Sherrer.

The bill outlines payment revenue per school year over the course of 10 years.

“The fund would provide an annual funding increase at a beginning level of $57.5 million to schools through the funding formula as long as the state’s General Revenue Fund grows by at least one percent each year, as certified by the State Board of Equalization,” said Sherrer. “Under the legislation, the fund would cap out with $575 million additional dollars.”

“As a candidate for State Superintendent, I very much support this,” said Dr. Ivan Holmes. “I believe it is a common sense play to make education funding a priority.”

Holmes said this is not taking money out of other funds, it is simply taking money off the top of the general revenue fund.”

“But don’t let legislative accounting fool you. This sounds good, but remember that it takes a lot of money to fund our education system - with over $2 billion currently in the common education budget now. But education funding is down over $200 million since 2008,” said Sherrer. “So even if the fund is successful this measure still places us in a catch-up mode to pre-recession funding levels.”

Sherrer called attention to the fact that the measure passed with “title stricken.”

“This means it cannot be sent to the governor for final approval until it is passed by the senate and heard in the house. In other words, it remains on shaky ground until later in the session when the budget agreement is reached,” Sherrer said, adding that striking title is another legislative maneuver that allows legislators to pass a bill and talk big about it without it being close to a “done deal” yet.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Holmes said. “It all depends on whether or not we make education a priority.”

The State Board of Education will put the money in the Securing Educational Excellence Fund to increase the per pupil expenditure by distributing the funds for the financial support of public schools, according to the bill.

 

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