Oklahoma City In a straight party-line vote Tuesday, Senate Democrats stopped an effort by Republicans to fund the FY 2004 common education budget at levels recommended by Gov. Brad Henry.
Senate Republican Floor Leader James A. Williamson, R-Tulsa, stated, The Senate Democrat leadership continues to hold education funding hostage. The Senate had an opportunity to fund education first, and at Governor Henrys proposed levels. Republicans tried, but the majority Democrats had the votes to stop our effort.
SB 22, the State Department of Education appropriations shell bill, was brought to the Senate floor for consideration Tuesday. Since no funding levels are included in a shell bill, Williamson attempted to offer an amendment to insert the governors proposed FY 2004 funding levels for common education.
To stop the GOP effort, Senate Democrat leaders made a motion to advance SB 22 without considering Williamsons amendment. 25 Democrats voted to advance the bill without considering the amendment, and 19 Republicans voted against the motion. 3 Democrats and 1 Republican were excused from the vote.
If the legislature fails to fund education first and immediately, school boards across Oklahoma will soon be forced to assume the worst and start planning for additional budget cuts including sending layoff notices to many good teachers. By funding education now, the Senate could have locked in education funding and help protect our schools from further budget cuts, Williamson said.