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OK officials order $235M cut to state agencies

Posted at 11:56 AM, Mar 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-03 15:01:55-05

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- State finance officials say Oklahoma schools, prisons and other state agencies will have their budgets slashed by 7 percent for the rest of the year, cuts that amount to an additional $235 million.

Public schools alone will have nearly $110 million cut from their budgets for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

Collections from every major source of revenue in Oklahoma have fallen short of projections amid a slump in oil and natural gas prices, prompting the mid-year reductions.

Gov. Mary Fallin's Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger (DOR'-fling-ur), who ordered the cuts, warned lawmakers about the seriousness of the state's fiscal situations. Lawmakers are facing a $1.3 billion hole in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which Doerflinger says could result in cuts "right through the bone."

“Today’s budget announcement means schools will lose another $93 per student – a total of $158 less per student than schools budgeted for at the beginning of the year. Now is the time to get serious about a long-term funding plan for public education that will ensure a high-quality education for Oklahoma’s nearly 700,000 public school students," said Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association in a statement.  "Students and their families deserve a commitment from state policy leaders to halt conversation around new mandates, vouchers and any other policies that will add costs or divert resources away from public schools. Our per-student education investment in Oklahoma is dead last in the region and one of the worst in the country. We have a historic teacher shortage, class sizes are increasing and schools are cutting courses. Simply put, our classrooms are in crisis. Education isn’t a partisan issue.  The budget decisions looming over the next few months will affect our children, our communities and our state for years to come.  There’s no margin for error. We must work together to protect our students and their education."
 

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