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Florida offers Oklahoma lawmakers examples of how to deal with budget demands

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: November 5, 2012

State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi wants to tie funding increases to detailed performance metrics. Schools that show gains in core subjects such as reading and math or close achievement gaps for minority students would be financially rewarded. She also has urged local schools to use a portion of any funding increase to boost teacher pay.

In a tight budget environment, it makes sense to tie funding to performance. What works for individual employees in the private sector can work for state agencies.

The DOC and DOE budget requests are just two of many. Most agencies are expected to ask for increases with some requests more justifiable than others. The tension between limited resources and growing need during troubled economic times demonstrates the necessity for state lawmakers to continue advancing reforms that reduce state expenses.

When Jeb Bush was governor of Florida, he pioneered many of the education reforms that are now undertaken in Oklahoma. Those reforms improved student performance, but Bush acknowledged they also required funding support.

That's one reason Bush also promoted market-driven Medicaid reforms in Florida to improve patient outcomes while driving down costs. It's easier to increase spending in one area when you restrain it elsewhere.

Lawmakers should consider similar efforts in Oklahoma. The need to increase funding in some cases doesn't mean the status quo should reign in all others. Funding increases may be warranted for specific programs, but savings can — and must — be generated in others.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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