- Associated Press - Friday, October 21, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A recent report says Oklahoma leads the nation in cuts to general education funding.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said nearly 27 percent of state per pupil funding, with adjustment for inflation, has been cut in Oklahoma since 2008.

The figure is nearly twice the percentage in cuts made by Alabama, which the center’s report said is the second worst state for education funding reductions, according to the Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/2dvgStn ).

Oklahoma House Speaker Jeff Hickman said lawmakers have worked to preserve funding levels for schools in the midst of an economic downturn, and that the report didn’t take into account federal education funding and other sources. State superintendent Joy Hofmeister said that the Oklahoma public education system can’t continue failing without proper funding.

“While it is true that state-appropriated dollars have increased, funding has failed to keep pace with an influx of more than 50,000 additional students,” Hofmeister said. “Along with these spikes in student growth, state-mandated coverage of health insurance costs for teachers has continued to escalate.”

A report by the Oklahoma Policy Institute earlier this year showed that the state’s income tax cuts have increased to more than $1 billion per year since 2004, resulting in a $356 million loss annually to public schools. The loss has caused over 1,500 teaching positions to be removed in the state over the past year, according to a report from the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.

Gene Perry with the institute said per pupil funding is the most honest way to view education financing, because it shows “what matters the most to parents and students.”

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Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com


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