McBride, Hasenbeck Meet with Education Groups to Prepare Budget for Coming Year

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Contact: State Rep. Mark McBride
Phone: (405) 557-7346
Contact: State Rep. Toni Hasenbeck
Phone: (405) 557-7256

State Reps. Mark McBride (R-Moore) and Toni Hasenbeck (R-Elgin) met with numerous education groups throughout the month of September to get a preliminary look at budget requests in advance of the next legislative session.

As chair and vice chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education, the two said their committee deals with the lion’s share of the state budget each year and it is important to start early to ensure funds get to the areas of greatest need.

“We wanted to be proactive and start looking at education funding now instead of waiting until the business of the legislative session when lawmakers are attending numerous committee meetings and considering thousands of bills,” McBride said. “Having a balanced budget that adequately funds core government services while protecting taxpayers is the top reason people elect lawmakers. We are trying to do this right and get this done in a timelier manner.”

Hasenbeck said the earlier lawmakers get started on the budget, the better job they can do of ensuring dollars are directed to necessary programs and services.

“We want to make sure we are spending our dollars strategically to help us strengthen the workforce of the future,” she said. “We must make sure our students have the math and reading and other core skills they need so they can be successful after graduation. We want Oklahoma’s workforce to be the best in the nation so that we have companies lined up waiting to locate and do business in our state.”

McBride said right now the state is not turning out enough engineers or doctors and nurses as well as professionals in other fields even though teachers in preK-12 schools as well as in higher education and the state’s CareerTech system are working their hardest to change this.

McBride pointed to programs such as CareerTech’s focus on training and recruiting students for jobs in the energy sector as an example of the types of programs that should receive attention in the next fiscal year’s budget.

McBride and Hasenbeck met with the officials from the state Department of Education, Higher Education, Career Tech, the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability and all of the other groups that receive state appropriations under the education umbrella. They heard initial budget requests and the scope of programs and services offered for state students from prekindergarten through post-secondary education.

Now, the two are preparing a preliminary budget report for House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) and House Appropriations and Budget Chair Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston). The information will be used to guide the work of the House A&B Subcommittee on Education once the legislative session starts in February, they said.