Lawmakers roll out stand-still budget
BY WORLD STAFF
Monday, May 21, 2012
5/25/12 at 2:01 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Lawmakers rolled out an agreement Monday night that would increase the state budget by 3.13 percent but leaves schools with stand-still funding.
The proposed budget includes a $50 million hike for the Department of Human Services, while prison funding would go up $3.9 million. The budget for the state Medical Examiner’s Office would increase $1.5 million.
Education funding would rise only 0.26 percent under the proposed budget plan.
The agreement would also transfer the state EDGE fund to the Regents for Higher Education to deal with a backlog of endowed professorships.
Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders called the deal a “responsible, fiscally conservative agreement” that includes targeted funding increases for core services.
"The targeted increases we are pursuing will help to improve child welfare services, repair structurally deficient bridges, increase access to health care in rural areas, and boost resources for public safety,” Fallin said in a press release. “Additionally, this budget agreement will also ensure the state supports common education and keeps its promise to teachers by funding health benefits and bonuses. All of these things will help to improve state government services and make Oklahoma a better place to live and raise a family."
House Speaker Kris Steele said the budget deal successfully limited unnecessary government growth.
"This budget moves Oklahoma forward on multiple fronts," said Steele, R-Shawnee. "It represents a commitment to responsible fiscal conservatism by limiting unnecessary government growth while still increasing resources for government's core services. It's a straightforward, balanced budget that will benefit the public and private sectors alike in many different ways."
Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said the proposal represented a common-sense approach to budgeting.
"Oklahomans deserve a conservative budget that reflects our values," said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. "Budget dollars should be targeted to fund important core functions of government-giving Oklahoma's kids a better education, fixing our broken roads, and protecting society's most vulnerable children from abuse and neglect. This agreement demonstrates a commitment to govern in a fiscally responsible way-- I'm proud of our common-sense, conservative approach."
Oklahoma Speaker of the House Kris Steele