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Legislators scheduled for pay raise during pandemic amid funding cuts to state agencies

Oklahoma State Capitol
Posted at 5:48 PM, May 06, 2020

This week, the Senate approved a funding bill that would cut most state agencies by four percent while keeping a 35 percent pay raise for lawmakers scheduled for November.

The raise was voted on last year by the Legislative Compensation Board that sets the salaries for Oklahoma lawmakers.

SB 1922 proposes nearly $238 million in cuts, however, that number is a drop in the bucket compared to the state budget shortfall the governor predicts of $1.3 billion if the economy does not recover from the impact of COVID-19.

The 35 percent increase in lawmakers salaries was controversial even last year amid the state education crisis.

"That’s the legislature. That’s the balance of power that we have in this system. I'm the executive branch, they’re the legislative," Governor Kevin Stitt said during a press conference Wednesday. "They write the budget and if I don’t think it’s a good deal for Oklahoma, then I will veto it and I will explain directly to Oklahoman’s what my problems are with this budget and then they (legislators) have the right to override that. And then they would have to own that and answer to Oklahomans just like I have to."

That funding measure passed the Senate this week 36 to 11 and now heads to the House.

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