State Cuts Us 9% (Don't Believe Their 2.9% Figure)

Post date: May 21, 2010 9:09:48 PM

The leaders of the legislature and the governor have announced a state budget agreement for 2010-2011. Don't be fooled by the spin they're putting on it, saying education was only cut 2.9%, because that is a 2.9% cut on top of unplanned budget cuts made during 2009-2010.

From the Tulsa World:

Under a budget agreement reached this month between Gov. Brad Henry and the Legislature, common education would receive about $2.38 billion, or about $71 million less than the total amount received this fiscal year. 

However, at the beginning of this fiscal year, education was slated to receive about $2.57 billion, which brings the cuts from last year to about 7.6 percent, [ Assistant State Superintendent James] White said.

But other cuts appear to be coming as well, including to employee flexible benefits — which by law must be paid by the state or, failing that, paid by the school district; FICA payments for teacher awards usually paid by the state; and a recent bill introduced in the Legislature — House Bill 2375 — that White said would cut $8.5 million from education funding for property tax reimbursements. 

With those cuts taken from what districts should have received last year, the total cut comes to 8.87 percent.

However, when the cuts are factored in for the total amount school districts actually received this year, the cuts for next year come to about 4.2 percent, officials said.

And there is no guarantee the state will make good on its promised funding. This past year the district's funding was cut midyear as state collections fell below projections.

According to the Daily Oklahoman:

While revenue from fee increases, like permits for overweight vehicles, vending machine decals and certified copies of driving records, is fairly simple to calculate, other new revenue streams are more problematic.
Lawmakers are counting on $50 million from a new system to electronically photograph vehicle license plates on Oklahoma highways and send tickets to uninsured motorists. Roughly $35 million is expected from notifying those who purchase items from out-of-state vendors through the Internet or catalogs that they are required to pay taxes on those items.
If proposals like those fail to meet expectations, state officials would be forced to implement even deeper cuts to state agencies and programs.