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Oklahoma governor signs first budget bill

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an $8.1 billion budget into law Friday that includes most of the major legislative priorities he sought in his first year in office.

Stitt clinched two major wins with the Fiscal Year 2020 budget that grants teacher pay raises and socks away $200 million in savings.

On the campaign trail, Stitt promised to boost teacher pay to the highest in the region. The budget grants teachers an average pay raise of $1,220.

The budget also includes $157.7 million in new common education funding. The Legislature appropriated $480 million in new funding for public schools last year.

The House, Senate and Stitt were all on the same page about building on the education funding commitments from the previous year, said Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat.

“Our objectives aligned a lot,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City. “When he rolled out his agenda, and when I rolled out the Senate agenda with my colleagues, there was a lot of overlap.”

The Senate, which pushed for more classroom funding, differed slightly from Stitt and the House, which pushed for the teacher pay raises to go on top of the $6,100 average salary hike granted the prior year.

Last year we did as much as we could for education so the Senate Republican caucus said we wanted more money in the funding formula this year, said

Senate Appropriations and Budget Chairman Roger Thompson said lawmakers were able to compromise by sending an additional $74 million into the school funding formula. Altogether, the $157.7 million in new classroom funding is more than the $95 million common education funding boost Stitt proposed in his executive budget.

“Education is talked about when you’re at the doorsteps campaigning, it’s talked about in coffee shops,” Thompson said. “The governor heard that. We heard that. It was just a joint priority.”

Stitt also was firm on boosting the state’s savings so Oklahoma could better weather future economic downturns, something legislative leaders were not quick to support.

“The fact that we were able to save $200 million and really set up and secure the future of Oklahoma without having to raise taxes or cut core services was an initiative that I set out from the very beginning,” Stitt said. “Also giving the teachers the pay raise … it changes the momentum in Oklahoma. It lets our teachers know how valued that profession is.”

The $200 million in savings was a major sticking point for Democrats, who felt the money could be better used to fund the needs of the state. But some Republicans also initially were wary of the additional savings.

When Stitt first proposed the savings, some Republicans chalked it up to the governor being new and not understanding how state government works, said Sen. Nathan Dahm.

But ultimately, lawmakers gave in to Stitt’s savings request because of the governor’s popularity and his fresh, business-like approach to governing, Dahm said.

“The wind is at his back,” he said. “The Legislature is still poorly looked upon, but he’s got a fresh perspective and I think he’s got the populace behind him.”

Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, who criticized the budget for being the largest in state history and not including more savings, was one of two Senate Republicans to oppose the appropriations bill.

The Legislature also granted Stitt oversight of five additional state agencies — another top priority for the new governor.

The budget also more than doubles the budget of the governor’s office and grants an additional $2 million for governor’s mansion repairs.

Stitt also got an additional $14 million in the Quick Action Closing Fund, a Legislature-approved pot of money the governor can use freely to help lure businesses to Oklahoma.

The $8.1 billion general appropriations bill is the backbone of a series of bills that make up the $8.3 billion budget package.

Related Photos
Gov. Kevin Stitt signs the budget and other bills, with Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, accompanied by his daughter, Olivia, 7, left, and House Speaker Charles McCall, right, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]

Gov. Kevin Stitt signs the budget and other bills, with Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, accompanied by his daughter, Olivia, 7, left, and House Speaker Charles McCall, right, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]

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[Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-8ecab3ffc7eef0d0266e4a427cf09818.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt talks about progress made during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="Gov. Kevin Stitt talks about progress made during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Gov. Kevin Stitt talks about progress made during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0a78659c96127f9890e944cf4349fbd8.jpg" alt="Photo - Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat talks about accomplishments during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat talks about accomplishments during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat talks about accomplishments during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ff73715ff0d6c5049ecd54eee95714b3.jpg" alt="Photo - House Speaker Charles McCall talks about accomplishments during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="House Speaker Charles McCall talks about accomplishments during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>House Speaker Charles McCall talks about accomplishments during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-16edbb9ae2439d288b2ad11a4b8d68c3.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt talks about progress made, while flanked by legislative leaders, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="Gov. Kevin Stitt talks about progress made, while flanked by legislative leaders, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Gov. Kevin Stitt talks about progress made, while flanked by legislative leaders, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0b96fece6c84783fea53d0d2f0fdac09.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt talks Olivia Treat, 7, the daughter of Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, while House Speaker Charles McCall, right, watches, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="Gov. Kevin Stitt talks Olivia Treat, 7, the daughter of Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, while House Speaker Charles McCall, right, watches, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Gov. Kevin Stitt talks Olivia Treat, 7, the daughter of Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, while House Speaker Charles McCall, right, watches, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-e713828cbe983754cd48be954a3158e7.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt signs the budget and other bills, with Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, accompanied by his daughter, Olivia, 7, left, and House Speaker Charles McCall, right, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="Gov. Kevin Stitt signs the budget and other bills, with Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, accompanied by his daughter, Olivia, 7, left, and House Speaker Charles McCall, right, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Gov. Kevin Stitt signs the budget and other bills, with Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, accompanied by his daughter, Olivia, 7, left, and House Speaker Charles McCall, right, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b0874aa693018d3255ff2dcccdeb1d52.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt signs the budget and other bills, with Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, accompanied by his daughter, Olivia, 7, left, and House Speaker Charles McCall, right, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="Gov. Kevin Stitt signs the budget and other bills, with Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, accompanied by his daughter, Olivia, 7, left, and House Speaker Charles McCall, right, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Gov. Kevin Stitt signs the budget and other bills, with Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, accompanied by his daughter, Olivia, 7, left, and House Speaker Charles McCall, right, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-96405814791b927ee36600e85dd58eff.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt shakes hands with House Speaker Charles McCall, right, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="Gov. Kevin Stitt shakes hands with House Speaker Charles McCall, right, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Gov. Kevin Stitt shakes hands with House Speaker Charles McCall, right, during a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-3800894f51da8aa8abf8076d189c81f4.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt poses with a group after a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="Gov. Kevin Stitt poses with a group after a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Gov. Kevin Stitt poses with a group after a bill and budget signing session in the Blue Room of the Capitol Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-7466d21db88ea203553eef03e8182242.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt and staff leave the Blue Room of the Capitol after signing the budget, Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="Gov. Kevin Stitt and staff leave the Blue Room of the Capitol after signing the budget, Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Gov. Kevin Stitt and staff leave the Blue Room of the Capitol after signing the budget, Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-09343c217278c49ba6bafe1ac25e9f82.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt and staff leave the Blue Room of the Capitol after signing the budget, Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="Gov. Kevin Stitt and staff leave the Blue Room of the Capitol after signing the budget, Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Gov. Kevin Stitt and staff leave the Blue Room of the Capitol after signing the budget, Friday , May 24, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure>
Carmen Forman

Carmen Forman covers the state Capitol and governor's office for The Oklahoman. A Norman native and graduate of the University of Oklahoma, she previously covered state politics in Virginia and Arizona before returning to Oklahoma. Read more ›

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