Oklahoma House Speaker: Fixing the past is today’s obstacle
By House Speaker Jeff Hickman
In 2005, voters handed Republicans control of the Oklahoma House of Representatives for only the second time in history. The state’s transportation system was crumbling, our prison system was dangerously overcrowded, and the Capitol building was falling apart after decades of neglect. Oklahoma had a noncompetitive income tax rate and possibly the worst-funded public pension system in the nation.
Republicans also inherited an education system where too many dollars weren’t going to the classroom and teacher salaries, and student outcomes needed improvement. That first year, House Republicans gave our schools an immediate increase of $168 million, and education remains one of our highest priorities more than a decade later.
From 2007 through 2015, funding for preK-12 schools increased more than $136.8 million (5.83 percent), while many other state agencies received cuts of more than 25 percent. Beginning in 2012, Republicans increased common education funding a total of nearly $207 million over three years, and last year, despite a budget shortfall of $611 million, local schools received no budget cut.