Monday, February 26, 2007


Thank a teacher and a thank every legislator who supports the Honesty in Funding Education Act, HB 1935, sponsored by Rep. Jerry McPeak, D-Warner.

You can thank them today by joining with the House Democrats at the State Capitol Press Room today at 1 p.m. or send them emails today urging their support of this important piece of legislation that will insure that the legislature keeps its past and future promises to teachers and school administrators.

The House Democrats will meet today flanked by school administrators and teachers to show their support of a bill that will insure payment for an unfunded mandate sent to them last year related to teachers' salary increases. In addition the Honesty in Funding Education bill will require the legislature to determine full education appropriations in a timely fashion so that local school boards and their administrators can make financially sound decisions related to hiring staff for the next school year.

HB 1935 is part of the House Democrats' Vision for Oklahoma's Second Century agenda.

The Honesty in Funding Education Act would fulfill the commitment made to school districts during the 2006 session of the State Legislature.

During the 2006 session the Legislature mandated that school districts give teachers in the state an increase in pay of $3,000. However, in spite of commitments made on the floor by House Leadership, the Legislature failed to appropriate monies to the school districts that would cover the costs associated with the pay raises.

“The fact is the State Legislature required all schools to pay all teachers an additional $3,000 by law, the extra costs created by the raise should also be paid,” said McPeak. “This is an unfunded mandate.

“When the bill was presented before the Legislature last session we were guaranteed by the House Republican Leadership that the extra costs to the school districts would be appropriated by the bill,” said former school superintendent Ray McCarter, D- Marlow. “The people of Oklahoma were lied to.”

Many school districts were forced to spend money out of their operational budgets for the pay raises. Now schools budgets are falling short and the money is needed for basic costs. Shortfalls due to this unfunded mandate may result in some teachers losing their job.

“Although raises have been given to teachers in the recent past, cuts in general operational dollars made in 2002 and 2003 have never been restored,” said Representative McCarter. “Now, school districts are must divert a portion of what’s left of operational money to cover unfunded mandates.”

“We didn’t keep our word. We sent schools an unfunded mandate” said McPeak. “It’s as simple as that. This has nothing to do with this year’s budget. This was agreed to last year.”

“Diminishing operational dollars means less money in the classroom,” said McCarter. “The bottom line is that schools across the state have already spent the money from the operational budget this year and it is up to the legislature to restore it.”

Representative McPeak conducted an interim study over the summer and fall of 2006, working with school superintendents and administrators from across the state. House Bill 1935 is the result of that study. Dubbed the Honesty in Funding Education Act, the bill would appropriate $56 Million to school districts across the state to make up for the monies that were not appropriated last session. Representative McPeak has been told by House Republican Leadership that his bill will not be heard in committee.

“This bill was worked on all summer by school administrators from across Oklahoma and representing a variety of school districts. It was non-partisan,” said McPeak. “No one knew what political party anyone belonged to and it makes no difference. Now, that session has started, folks inside the Capitol are making it political.”

“This is not honest or open government. You either keep your word or you don’t. Politicians made a big splash by promising teacher pay raises. The House required that the schools spend the money based on that promise and gave them the money to spend.”

“If this bill would come to the floor, it would pass overwhelmingly,” said McPeak. “Most of the men and women in the House of Representatives are honest. The people of Oklahoma deserve the opportunity for their elected representatives to cast an up or down vote on House Bill 1935.”

If you are an honest citizen, educator, parent, or student please join the House Democrats for this important press conference today, if you are unable to attend, please encourage your legislator to support this important legislation. Email addresses for all House members are provided below.;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

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