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Today In The News
Public schools told to anticipate new state funding cuts up to $17 million: The Oklahoma State Department of Education on Wednesday notified school districts across the state that yet another shortfall in state revenue collections will likely cause their budgets for the current year to suffer. The Common Education Technology Revolving Fund, one of six sources of revenue that are combined to provide schools with state aid, has only received $26.5 million with two more months left in the fiscal year. That is $20 million, or 44 percent, shy of the $47.4 million expected [Tulsa World]. Oklahoma continues to lead the nation for the largest cuts to general school funding since the start of the recession [OK Policy].
Budget crisis: Proposal would cut 142 Tulsa Public Schools teaching positions, increase class sizes: A proposal that would cut 142 Tulsa Public Schools teaching positions and significantly increase class sizes to reduce the district’s budget by $8 million next year was announced on Wednesday. At a special meeting, the Tulsa school board learned the details of the plan for the first time in preparation for a vote set for 6:30 p.m. Monday. Chief Financial Officer Trish Williams said the school-staffing reductions are unavoidable, given that the school district has to reduce its 2017 fiscal year budget by $13.5 million to $20 million [Tulsa World].
#DoSomethingOK: Oklahoma’s massive budget shortfall means that lawmakers face stark choices this year. They can choose devastating cuts to Oklahoma public schools, health care, and other essential services. Or they can shore up the state’s finances and invest in a stronger economy and brighter future for Oklahoma [Together OK].
Fallin Signs Off On Criminal Justice Reform Package: Governor Mary Fallin signed into law four criminal justice reform bills Wednesday. Each bill is aimed at scaling back Oklahoma’s sentencing practices. The legislation comes as a result of Fallin’s Oklahoma Justice Reform Committee that met during the fall of 2015. HB 2751 raises the property crime threshold for a felony to $1000 from $500. HB 2479 lowers mandatory minimum drug sentences. HB 2472 allows district attorneys more discretion to file certain crimes as misdemeanors instead of felonies, and HB 2753 widens eligibility for community sentencing and drug courts [KGOU]. Raising the felony theft threshold is smart — and overdue [OK Policy]. Governor Fallin’s new, inclusive approach to criminal justice reform is bearing fruit [OK Policy].
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