Policy Group Requests AG Opinion on Ed Funding

Mike Seals - September 14, 2020 10:22 pm

Letter Asks if CARES Act Dollars to Private Schools Is Legal

OKLAHOMA CITY – The House Democratic Education Policy Group sent a letter to the Oklahoma State Attorney General Mike Hunter requesting an opinion on whether Gov. Kevin Stitt acted within his authority when he chose to send a portion of the CARES Act funding to private schools.

Citing a recent decision against the US Department of Education for similar CARES fund activity, the House Democrats asked specifically about the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, which was provided by the CARES Act.

“We wish to ensure that the application of the CARES Act funds in Oklahoma were spent appropriately in accordance to the directive in the CARES Act 18003 (d)(f) which specifically calls for the ‘providing of services to low-achieving students’ which ‘funds activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students,” said Rep. Melissa Provenzano, the primary author of the letter.  “This includes all funding streams: Learn Anywhere Oklahoma, Bridge the Gap Digital Wallet, Stay in School funds as well as any other expenditures made with these funds.”

If Attorney General Hunter does deem that the Governor acted beyond his constitutional authority by incorrectly distributing these funds, Democrats are seeking an opinion that directs the governor to distribute the $38 million as directed by the President and Congress.

“Whether it is State Question 781 funding or education funding, our state government has a hard time following the letter of the law,” said State Rep. Andy Fugate, D-Del City. “We requested this opinion because it’s time to stop this ‘do as I say, not as I do’ approach to government funding. There are real questions regarding the legality of the governor’s actions. These CARES Act dollars are not a slush fund for the governor to spend as he pleases. ”

Democrats have requested an expedited response from the AG’s office to prevent the misuse of federal dollars that would need to be repaid.

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Democratic Caucus Education Policy Group Members: Rep. Melissa Provenzano (Chair) Rep. Kelly Albright, Rep. Andy Fugate, Rep. Monroe Nichols, Rep. Trish Ranson, Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, and Rep. John Waldron

LINK TO LETTER: Letter to Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter

 

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