This Thursday was another major deadline in the Legislature. It was the final day for committees to hear any remaining Senate bills. All bills must pass at least one committee before becoming eligible to be heard on the chamber floor, so any Senate bills that weren’t heard in committee by Thursday are effectively dead for the remainder of session.
During Appropriations & Budget Committee on Wednesday, I presented Senate Bill 193 on behalf on my colleague Rep. Mark McBride. SB193 changes the circumstances under which schools can lose their accreditation or be assessed a financial penalty for receiving a deficiency in accreditation until the Legislature appropriates $67 million more than it did in Fiscal Year 2019 for the financial support of public schools.
SB193 also requires the State Dept. of Education to submit a report on statewide classroom sizes to the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tempore by 2022. The bill is supported by numerous education groups, including OSSBA, OSBE, CCOSA, OEA and the Secretary of State’s office. SB193 passed committee 28-0, making it eligible to be heard on the House floor.
I also passed SB547 through the House floor this week. The bill, which I coauthored with Sen. Brent Howard, updates the testing method for equine infectious anemia. It passed the House 92-0 and now sits on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature into law!
As the end of session looms, the budget has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds. After years of treacherous budget cuts for state agencies, we have a surplus of roughly $574.6 million this year. This is a great indicator of the strength of our economy, but the Legislature still has the address the tough questions of where this money should go.
In their budget proposals, state agencies have requested an additional $1.2 billion in funding. Unfortunately, we just don’t have enough money to meet all of those requests, and as a result, we must be very select with our budget proposal.
We are hopeful that both legislative bodies will provide more classroom funding and another teacher pay raise, but we are also mindful of the hundreds of state employees who are equally deserving of a long-overdue cost-of-living adjustment.
We’ll continue examining how to best serve Oklahomans as we finalize budget details and consider new policies. As always, please reach out to my office with any questions, comments or concerns about legislation. Thank you for the chance to represent your voices at the state Capitol!
Rep. Toni Hasenbeck, a Republican, represents District 65 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes Caddo, Comanche, Cotton, Grady and Stephens Counties. She can be reached at email@example.com or at (405) 557-7305.