Gov. Fallin Approves Bill To Fund Public Schools, Department Of Corrections

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFSM) — More than $78 million has been withdrawn from the states “Rainy Day Fund” to assist public schools and the Department of Corrections.

SB1571 and SB1572, which were co-authored by state representative John Bennett (R – Sallisaw), were signed by Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday (March 23).

The bill appropriates $51 million to the State Department of Education for financial support of public schools and to pay the full cost of health insurance for teachers, administrators and support personnel, according to a release from Bennett’s office.

SB1571 also sets aside $27.5 million to the Department of Corrections to cover medical and contracted services for inmate population increases. The State Board of Corrections approved a supplemental request for $38.7 million after the second revenue failure earlier this month.

The release stated that the Constitutional Reserve Fund or “Rainy Day Fund” currently has a balance of $385 million. The Legislature can appropriate three-eighths of that amount for the current fiscal year which is approximately $144 million. Both supplemental measures total $78.5 million, the release stated.

“We must continue to address the critical situation in our state prison system,” said Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw in the release. “Public safety is a core function of government and we must have the resources to keep violent criminals behind bars. This supplemental agreement is a necessary action that will prevent further erosion of the department.”