State Capitol, Oklahoma City – Tuesday’s passage by the State Senate of the $1.95 billion common education budget for fiscal year 2004 is a major victory for the people of Oklahoma, Senate Republican Leader James A. Williamson said.
“Education should be our state’s highest priority, and Republicans are proud to have led the effort to fund education first and early in the budget process. Passage of this bill is a major victory for the people of Oklahoma, and it assures school administrators and educators that the money the Legislature promised two weeks ago is really going to be there,” stated Williamson, R-Tulsa.
Legislative leaders reached agreement on the common education funding level two weeks ago. Then, last week, leaders reached an overall state budget accord that included an agreement to pass the FY04 common education by April 15 and to enact a statutory deadline to pass future common education budgets no later than twenty-five days prior to the annual teacher contract renewal cut-off-date.
“Funding education first is a significant reform of the budget process. State government cannot become all things to all people. With limited resources, we must prioritize education spending and put our words into action. By mandating that education is funded first and early in the future, we can ensure education is truly number one in the budget,” said Senator Scott Pruitt, R-Broken Arrow, Assistant Republican Floor Leader.
“No one can remember the last time education was funded this early in the process. It is an historic day for the Legislature, and a clear policy achievement for Republicans in the State Legislature. The agreement to fund education first – now and in the future – ensures that schoolchildren are no longer used as pawns in state budget debates, and this is good news for every Oklahoma family and taxpayer,” stated Senator Glenn Coffee, R-OKC, Assistant Republican Floor Leader.