- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 19, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - House Speaker Jeff Hickman says he sees no way to avoid further cuts to public education next year given a $900 million hole in the budget that likely will get larger because of low oil and gas prices.

Hickman commented on the state’s budget situation Tuesday following a closed-door meeting of Republican House members.

Because funding for education makes up more than 50 percent of state-appropriated spending, Hickman says it is unlikely education can be shielded like it was in the current year’s budget.

By using several sources of one-time revenue, like the state’s Rainy Day Fund, funding for public schools remained flat for the fiscal year that ends June 30 despite a $600 million hole.

The legislative session begins Feb. 1.

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