Capitol protesters: Scrap budget deal, fund public schools (AP)

May 26, 2016

By Associated Press and Jasmine Anderson

OKLAHOMA CITY — (AP) -- More than 100 protesters at the Oklahoma state Capitol have called for the Legislature to scrap a proposed budget deal and designate more state money for public education.

Members of the protest group on Thursday marched from a nearby high school and rallied in the Capitol rotunda, telling lawmakers to call a special session.

Leaders in the Legislature have been hammering out a budget deal that covers about $969 million of a $1.3 billion projected budget shortfall, requiring state agencies to absorb about $360 million in cuts from last year's appropriations.

House Rep. Mike Shelton, a Democrat, says lawmakers for years have not properly funded public education. Former legislator and governor candidate Joe Dorman says lawmakers need to look at the revenue enhancements and tax increases to come up with a solution that will work to fix the problem and not just put a bandage over it.

"It's a one year fix. They haven't done any work what so ever to come up with a long term solution," Dorman said.

Parent George Mcquiston just hoped to have his voice heard.

"I hope it moves the needle but there are a lot of people in nice fancy suits backed by organizations with acronyms who I think have a lot more power than we do," Mcquiston said.

Supporters of the budget say it does enough through revenue increases and bond measures to prevent devastating cuts to core services, including education.