A recent family trip to Minnesota gave Sen. Cliff Branan the opportunity to get a first-hand look at the collapsed I-35 bridge in Minneapolis. Branan, who is Co-Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said Oklahoma must learn from the tragedy and make road and bridge funding a top priority in the upcoming 2008 legislative session.
Oklahoma Senate Co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee said that he, Speaker of the House Lance Cargill, and Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan, have approved a FY 2008 budget work program for the Criminal Justice Resource Center (CJRC) that reduces spending for the current year by $80,559, an amount equal to 12 percent of the agency’s appropriation. The Criminal Justice Resource Center is a division of the Legislative Service Bureau.
In explanation of the 12-percent slashing of the budget of the Oklahoma Criminal Justice Resource Center, Senate Co-President Pro Tempore has said the CJRC has been spending money at an unsustainable rate. This is sustained by having a silver lining in the situationby creating efficiency and cutting fat at a government agency.
As outgoing chairman of the Oklahoma Sentencing Commission, I feel that it was better to agree to the 12-percent reduction in budget than face the possibility of having the entire budget cut for the CJRC and ultimately eliminating the CJRC.
Senate Co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee said Thursday it is premature for legislators to call for the construction of a new government-run prison before a legislative performance audit of the Department of Corrections is completed in December.
Historically, when you take capital costs into account the state has gotten a better bang for its buck when we use private prison space. Well see in December if the performance audit shows that this is still the case, said Coffee, R-Oklahoma City.
Senator Jeff Rabon on Thursday said Oklahoma has reached a fork in the road on the issue of prison overcrowding and is proposing the construction of a 2,500 inmate facility as part of a long-term plan to address lingering problems facing the Department of Corrections.
The 5,200 acres occupied by the Howard McCleod Correctional Center in Atoka would serve as the location for the proposed facility, with construction costs estimated at nearly $170 million.
The author of Oklahoma’s legislation to bring transparency to state government spending was tapped to address a national conference on “transparency in state government” last week.
State Sen. Randy Brogdon, author of Oklahoma’s Taxpayer Transparency Act, joined officials from Pennsylvania, Kansas, Texas, and Washington to discuss efforts to make government more open and accessible. The August 9th event in Boston, Mass., was sponsored by the National Legislative Program Evaluation Society.read more.
Statement by Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan
“For years the Democratic Senate has put education first, because we understand every dollar invested in education is a critical investment in the future of all Oklahomans.
“We have led the way in bringing Oklahoma teacher pay to the regional average, and have fought for fairness in any teacher pay plan that has been signed into law.
Following a Minnesota bridge collapse that has forced states to reevaluate the safety of their roads and bridges, Sen. Kenneth Corn is calling upon lawmakers to change the state’s transportation funding formula and make a meaningful investment to improve transportation infrastructure.read more.
OKLAHOMA CITY – One newspaper called it “a great idea for Oklahoma families, and one of the most taxpayer-friendly moves the State Legislature has made in decades,” a statement proven by Oklahomans.
The state’s first “Back-to-School” sales tax holiday exceeded expectations across Oklahoma, with retailers showing record business and families getting a real tax break they could see at the cash register.read more.