My bill protecting schools from unfunded mandates passed in the Appropriations and Budget Education Committee this week with a unanimous vote. The bill is now eligible to be heard by the full Appropriations and Budget Committee.
House Bill 1115 would prohibit the Legislature from enacting new mandates for schools unless funding is provided.
At a time when our rural school districts – such as Oktaha, Warner, Wainwright, Hilldale and others – are experiencing financial hard times, it is important that we reduce the amount of government bureaucracy being forced upon them.
Many schools fight just to keep certified teachers in the classroom and make sure textbooks and other classroom materials are updated. If we are going to enact legislation such as new reporting requirements, new safety procedures, new accountability measures, new building codes – whatever – we must at least make sure we’re giving all schools the adequate funding to meet the requirements of the law.
For many years the Legislature has passed laws that say subject to the availability of funding. For big urban districts, like Oklahoma City or Tulsa, or for wealthier districts such as Edmond or Jenks, complying with these mandates may not pose a problem, but they are crippling for small, rural school districts. This creates an inequitable system for schools.
I’ve visited with numerous school administrators and teachers in House District 13 and heard the frustration over such laws. I’m sure the same frustrations are shared in school districts statewide.
I am pleased that 12 of my fellow legislators on both sides of the political aisle agreed with me on this measure and voted to pass this bill out of subcommittee. It would seem by such support that this is a concern shared by many. I look forward to presenting this bill to the full committee, where I hope it will get broad support and be eligible to be considered by the House.
Another of my bills passed the House Appropriations and Budget Committee this week. House Bill 1187 requires any new provision enacting a tax incentive include a sunset date. If a tax incentive is working and bringing revenue into the state, the Oklahoma Tax Evaluation Commission can always vote to continue it. Many tax incentives now, though, don’t have a sunset date and it makes it difficult to end them if they are not bringing a return on investment to the state. This should result in more revenue for our state.
If I can be of service to you, or you just want to share your ideas or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me on my cell phone at (918) 680-1218.
Avery Frix serves District 13 of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. He can be reached by phone at (405) 557-7302 or via email at email@example.com.