Oklahoma Senate budget chair expects education boost

Published: April 10, 2013
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A key budget official at the Oklahoma Legislature on Wednesday said money will likely be available this fiscal year to help pay for teacher benefits.

Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, said the state should be able to afford about $8.5 million in the current fiscal year to offset the rising cost of health benefits for teachers. Gov. Mary Fallin had proposed the money among other supplemental funding this year.

Jolley said the funding figure for this year would likely be settled about the same time that legislators agree to the 2014 budget.

“My thought is that at this point, we're close enough that we might be able to run supplemental funding along with the budget,” Jolley said. “It's difficult to have a conversation about next year's budget without knowing what we're doing this year.”

Jolley said there's “no question” a supplemental budget deal will include money to pay for teacher benefits. Fallin in February proposed $20 million in supplemental funding, including money to begin repairs on the crumbling facade at the state Capitol.

Jolley said negotiations are continuing among him, House Appropriations Chairman Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, and Fallin's Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger.

Last year, legislators were able to approve $92.5 million in supplemental funding.