Senate Democratic Leader Andrew Rice fears the worst is yet to come for Oklahoma school children, and places as much blame in the hands of Senate and House Republicans, and Governor Fallin, as is being justly given to Superintendent Janet Barresi.
“Not only did legislative Republicans and the Governor write and pass a budget that negligently underfunded public schools and the children those schools serve, but all session they proposed to consolidate immense power into the hands of Superintendent Barresi.” Rice said.
Rice pointed out that in considering several education reforms this year, Republicans often said good teachers would have nothing to fear from proposed changes. Rice said those were clearly empty promises made by Republicans and Governor Fallin.
“In fact, it seems the very best teachers will be paying a very high price due to the Governor and legislative Republicans. Their “turn a blind eye” approach to the State Superintendent’s legislative agenda has now resulted in the passage of a budget that guts common education, eliminates financial incentives for our best and brightest educators and threatens to weaken Oklahoma schools’ ability to meet the needs of some of the state’s most vulnerable children.”
Rice said Oklahomans should brace themselves for further trouble, as Republicans and the Governor show no inclination to find ways to free up new revenue sources by ending special interest tax giveaways.
“Governor Fallin and the legislative Republicans failed to eliminate special interest tax breaks to free up money for public education this session and show no signs of doing so in the future. The blame for the surprising and extreme cuts being made by the Superintendent lay at their feet as well,” Rice said.
Rice said their actions are a clear indication of misplaced priorities.
“The Governor and House and Senate Republicans can say all day long they value public education, but their actions speak much louder than their words, and I fear the worse is yet to come until they all begin legislating from the center.”