State Sen. Cal Hobson has sent letters to all members of the Oklahoma Legislature asking for their support for a special session to address unfunded costs of the recently approved $3,000 pay raise as well as funding to shore up the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System (OTRS). Hobson said he decided to approach members of the House and Senate after Gov. Brad Henry said the issues could wait until the regular session.
“Our schools are looking at a $21.7 million budget hole this fall because they were not given all the funding they need to pay for the additional costs of the raise,” said Hobson, D-Lexington. “There is no way they can cover that cost and it is wrong to ask them to wait until 2007 when we have the money to fix this problem now.”
Hobson said that June collections have exceeded the previous certification by more than $68 million, meaning there is money available immediately to cover the $21.7 for the pay package as well as make a $20 million down payment to OTRS to put it on the road to actuarial soundness.
“The Constitution does give us an alternative to the Governor calling a special session,” Hobson explained. “The legislature itself is constitutionally empowered to convene a special session through a two-thirds vote of each body. That’s what we should do.”
Hobson said he would like the special session to convene within the next three to four weeks.
“We have the money and we have the means. Instead of procrastinating, we should address this problem as soon as possible and let our schools get on about the business of educating our children and give our retired teachers the peace of mind they deserve.”