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Governor Stitt discusses budget deal

Kevin Stitt State of the State
Posted at 2:55 PM, May 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-20 15:25:31-04

TULSA - The governor and state lawmakers came to an agreement this week on the 2020 fiscal budget plan for Oklahoma.

Governor Kevin Stitt said he was pleased with the plan and several of the key items he discussed in his state of the state address were considered and put into the $8.3 billion dollar budget.

The budget covers everything from public safety, education, criminal justice and setting aside money for the future.

Governor Stitt said his plan is to have $2 billion in savings by the end of his term.

“We were able to for the first time in history, to actually save $200 million dollars," said Governor Stitt. "So, I set aside $200 million at the very beginning."

Education was also at the forefront.

While there’s $203 million in new education spending, with an average raise for most teachers of about $1200 dollars, it’s still one of the most controversial parts of the budget.

“Does it just go to the funding formula or does some of it go to teacher pay raise? And so that was really important for me because I believe giving the teachers a pay raise is getting dollars into the classroom because I think that’s where the magic happens between the teachers and the students," Governor Stitt said.

He said the teacher raise will make Oklahoma top in the region for teacher pay.

Next year, educators hope support staff will also get a raise.

Criminal justice was another big priority for the governor.

“The women in recovery, we put $1.5 million, but we also invested another $10 million in other diversion programs because what I heard from the judges is they needed more programs to divert people instead of having to send them to prison if they’re non-violent drug offenders,” said Governor Stitt.

The budget also includes $1 million dollars to reduce the rape kit backlog.

Governor Stitt said the funding is important to stop future crimes.

Lots of money is also going toward infrastructure, $575 million for an 8-year-plan.

The budget for Fiscal Year 2020 goes into effect July 1.

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