Tuesday, February 28, 2012
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT, Capitol Bureau Oklahoman
A deal has been reached to provide $92.5 million of emergency funding for this fiscal year that, among other things, would pay for $5,000 National Board Certified teacher bonuses, hold a trooper academy and reimburse local communities and counties for disaster assistance, legislative budget leaders announced Tuesday.
The money comes from increased state revenue collections this fiscal year. Collections are coming in about 10 percent higher than estimates for the 2012 fiscal year, which ends July 1. The money for the supplemental appropriations is from increased collections.
“Thanks to our growing economy, the state now has the money to address obligations we are committed to,” said House Appropriations and Budget Committee Chairman Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville.
Senate Bill 1959 was scheduled to be taken up Tuesday by a Senate joint budget committee. A House joint budget committee will take up a House version Wednesday.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, said the leaders of the House and Senate, along with Gov. Mary Fallin, have agreed to the deal.
The measure calls for:
• $37.6 million for insurance benefits for teachers and support staff.
• $34.1 million for the State Emergency Fund to reimburse local communities and counties for disaster assistance.
• $14.8 million for National Board Certified teacher bonuses.
• $5 million for the Public Safety Department for a trooper academy.
• $1 million for the state medical examiner's office for personnel and equipment required for national accreditation.
Fallin, in her State of the State address earlier this month, suggested lawmakers appropriate $34.1 million for the State Emergency Fund. The state has a backlog of about $28 million to cities, towns, counties and electric cooperatives.
She also asked for $6 million for a trooper academy that could provide up to 90 new troopers. The patrol has not had a trooper academy the past three years because of revenue slowdowns; the academy trains recruits to become troopers.