By Rep. Mike Sanders
I received a visit from a number of educators from my district. I was very happy to have an opportunity to discuss their concerns. They visited the Oklahoma State Capitol as part of a larger rally to encourage state lawmakers to support education funding, increase teacher pay and reduce over-testing.
In the Fiscal Year 2015 budget, which was crafted during last year’s session, the Oklahoma Legislature appropriated $2.48 billion to common education. The state budget has been tight in these last several years, but we have increased total funding for education in Fiscal Year 2014 by $91 million and again in Fiscal Year 2015 by $104.5 million. From Fiscal Year 2010 to Fiscal Year 2015, common education funding has increased by 1.59 percent while other agencies have experienced an average decrease of 25 percent.
I want to thank all the teachers, administrators and parents that visited. Your input is appreciated and valued and it is one of the primary reasons that education continues to get the largest portion of the state budget. I would encourage you to come up again next year.
This week was marked by the first piece of major legislation to be signed into law in 2015. Governor Mary Fallin signed House Bill 1948, which is intended to address the high number of prescription drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma. The legislation requires physicians and other medical providers to check a prescription drug database before writing new prescriptions or renewing old ones for opiates, synthetic opiates, semisynthetic opiates, benzodiazepine or carisoprodol. Checks would be required for all new patients and once every 180 days for other patients. The law takes effect November 1.
We also spent a day this week honoring veterans. I was honored to participate in recognizing these brave men and women for their service to our nation. A very fitting program on the Magna Carta, one day before this ceremony, discussed how important individuals are who fight for the God-given rights bestowed upon us and enshrined in our U.S. Constitution.