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Teacher pay, tax hikes top agenda

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)  A pay raise for teachers plus tax hikes to pay for it and patch budget holes will be among the top priorities facing the Oklahoma Legislature when it convenes Monday for its 2018 session.

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin will deliver her eighth and final State of the State address to the GOP-controlled Legislature early Monday afternoon and is likely to focus on those two issues, which she has made a priority in recent years, along with efforts to curb the state's growing prison population.

Some things to keep in mind for the legislative session scheduled to run through May 25.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

The Legislature's top priority is writing a budget for the next fiscal year, but lawmakers still haven't finished the current budget. Because a cigarette tax approved last year was tossed by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional, the Legislature hasn't fully funded three major agencies: the Department of Human Services, Department of Health and Substance Abuse Services and the Health Care Authority, the state's Medicaid agency.

On top of that, the Legislature is facing an unexpected $30 million bill this year to support the medical schools at the state's top two universities after a loss of federal Medicaid funding.

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