Retired Supreme Court Justice Steven Taylor came to the rescue this month as he was called by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt to serve as mediator in trying to resolve the impasse between the House and the Senate as far as an education package. Once again, Taylor offered his services to the state of Oklahoma, and I believe we finally have an education package that most can support.

This plan adds $625 million in recurring revenue for public schools, including pay raises of between $3,000 and $6,000 for all certified teachers depending on their years of experience. All teachers will receive the increase, even if their current pay is about the state minimum salary schedule. Teachers also will get six weeks of paid maternity leave.

Also included in the plan is $125 million for rural schools to address property tax revenue disparities for districts that have lower ad valorem bases. A three-year literacy program is in this plan, as is a school safety pilot program.

With the implementation of this education plan, we will have invested more money into public education in the last five years than in the previous 25 years — $1.37 billion from fiscal years 2019-24 vs. $1.35 billion from 1993-2018.

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Last week, we also were able to pass the final version of my House Bill 1590, the 911 enhancement measure, and sent it to Stitt for his consideration. We should know this week of any action he will take on this bill. It did pass with overwhelming majorities in both chambers, so I'm hoping Stitt will consider this margin in his final decision.

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One area I continue to hear from my constitutes about is Stitt's veto for funding for OETA. I hear your concerns, but bear in mind this is funded through June 2024, and I believe we can have this issue resolved before the clock runs out.

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As always, thank You for allowing me to serve you. I can be reached at by telephone at (405) 557-7381 or by e-mail at jim.grego@okhouse.gov.

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Grego serves District 17 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. His district includes Latimer County and parts of LeFlore and Pittsburg counties.

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