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In the weeks leading up to the legislative session, the spotlight is on budget hearings, so this week, I’d like to focus on the appropriations process, including the work of the appropriations subcommittees.

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I have said many times, the most important job we as legislators have is to write and pass a balanced budget because ultimately the outcome of that work impacts every single person in our state.  Because those tax dollars come from the public and in turn provide core services our citizens depend on—including schools, transportation, public safety and health care—it is our responsibility to be the best stewards possible with those dollars.

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OKLAHOMA CITY – State Sen. Darrell Weaver has filed legislation to require cell phone companies to provide phone location information to law enforcement in emergency situations, such as an abduction.  Senate Bill 272, the “Kelsey Smith Act,” is named for an 18-year-old from Kansas who was abducted from a store parking lot in 2007 and found murdered four days later.

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Senate Appropriations Chair Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, said the entire state should be proud after Amanda English, a former police chief who is now an educator at Metro Tech in Oklahoma City, was named National Teacher of the Year for 2021 by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at various issues related to our state budget, from how we use revenues from the lottery and medical marijuana, to funding for state services, including health care and corrections.  This week, we’re going to break down the actual budget process itself. 

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I want to thank everyone for taking the time to look at our weekly Budget Break Down articles and for sharing your comments and questions.  One topic I’m frequently asked about is what happened to all of the lottery money? 

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OKLAHOMA CITY – A bipartisan Senate interim study held Tuesday at the Capitol took an in-depth look at the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission’s (OESC) response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the lessons learned, and how those lessons will be applied in the future.  The study was requested by Business, Commerce and Tourism chair, Sen. James Leewright, R-Bristow, and Senate Democratic Floor Leader, Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City.

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Chuck Hall, R-Perry, and Sen. Mary Boren, D-Norman, held a bipartisan study Tuesday to examine Oklahoma’s use of pre-paid benefit cards. The state contracts with New Jersey-based Conduent for a majority of state benefit cards including tax refunds, government assistance and unemployment benefits.

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At statehood, Oklahoma did not yet have its own prison system—inmates had to be sent to Kansas. When Kate Barnard, our first Commissioner of Charities and Corrections, uncovered the horrific treatment of Oklahoma prisoners, she worked hard to establish the construction of the state’s first prison and the establishment of a three-tiered state prison system, which included a penitentiary, a reformatory and a boys’ training school. 

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OKLAHOMA CITY – In a bipartisan interim study hosted by Sen. Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, on Wednesday, legislators heard from experts and non-profit leaders about the benefits of Pay for Success programs and how expanding their footprint across the state could save the state millions of taxpayer dollars. 

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