Had the state's Rainy Day fund cap been set at 15 percent instead of 10, Oklahoma would have a much larger cushion, as much as $300 million more, to soften the impact of budget cuts. That's according to State Sen. John Ford, Republican Caucus Chairman and head of the Senate Education Committee.
State Sen. Jim Wilson has filed legislation to amend the Oklahoma Open Records Act to allow audio or video recordings of the Department of Public Safety be made public. Wilson believes, following controversial incidents in the state involving the suggestion of officers abusing their power, that the media should have access to the videos.read more.
Sen. Dan Newberry on Monday commented on the passing of Pastor Billy Joe Daugherty, pastor of Victory Christian Center and founder of Victory Christian School, Victory Bible Institute, the Tulsa Dream Center and Victory World Missions Training Center, saying his death was saddening, while commending the pastor on his extraordinary legacy of ministry and service. Newberry is an active member of Victory Christian Center.read more.
More Cuts ‘Inevitable,’ Better to Act Sooner Rather than Later
The Oklahoma Senate Republican Caucus today called on Governor Brad Henry to call the Legislature into special session in December, rather than waiting until January, as he suggested earlier this week.
“It’s very clear that more reductions in spending are inevitable,” said Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, “and agency heads are awaiting our direction as to how much their budgets will be reduced.read more.
Sen. Kenneth Corn, who has been pushing for weeks for an immediate special session to deal with senior nutrition program cuts and other catastrophic budget shortfalls, today said Sen. Glenn Coffee’s call for lawmakers to return to the Capitol in December “is the right thing to do for Oklahoma.”
Discussions of calling a special legislative session between the governor and legislative leaders are “a move in the right direction” a state Senator who has been pushing for the call said Wednesday, but to delay an emergency session until January may produce “too little, too late” for senior citizens suffering the brunt of Oklahoma’s financial collapse.
"I believe Governor Henry is taking a responsible approach to dealing with the current budget crisis by asking legislative leaders to conduct hearings with agency officials to determine how further cuts are going to affect Oklahoma families.
It is prudent we keep a level head and work together, leaving our political differences at the door as we proceed with any decision to come back for a special session. The Governor has done that, and it is my hope Republican leaders will follow suit.read more.
“The Senate’s review of agency budgets by the appropriations subcommittees is already well underway. We will have the information from these hearings ready in time for a discussion with the Governor preceding a January special session.
“With the state looking at the possibility of a shortfall of up to a billion dollars, it is a high probability that agencies will face deeper cuts, even if a portion of the Rainy Day Fund is accessed in a special session.read more.
Sen. Corn's letter to state lawmakers
State Sen. Kenneth Corn is seeking the signatures of state lawmakers on a petition that would enable the Oklahoma Legislature to call itself into an emergency special session to deal with life-threatening cuts to the states senior nutrition programs and any other problems being caused by a massive state budget shortfall.read more.
A bill filed last week by Democratic Sen. Andrew Rice will give Oklahoma voters the choice to increase the amount of money that can be deposited in the rainy day fund each year from 10 percent of prior year collections to 15 percent. Rice said doing so will guard critical state services which all Oklahomans depend on from the chopping block in times of economic crisis.read more.
Although the 2010 elections are still a year away, State Sen. Jim Wilson wants to make sure the campaigns take the high road. Hes filed legislation that would make it illegal for anyone to intentionally lie or spread misinformation in a political campaign.
Every year it seems like the lies and the mudslinging just gets worse and worse. It would be laughable if it wasnt such a serious issuethese lies can and do impact the outcomes of our electoral process, and yet nothing is ever done to hold those responsible accountable, said Wilson, D-Tahlequah. Its got to stop.read more.
Time for Tough Decisions to be Maderead more.
State Sen. Debbe Leftwich said it was unconscionable for the Department of Human Services (DHS) to pass out nearly $200,000 in pay hikes at a time when the agency has cut $7.4 million from senior nutrition programs. Leftwich said while many employees at DHS and other state agencies are underpaid, raising salaries while cutting senior nutrition is the wrong thing to do. She applauded House member Randy Terrill, R-Moore, for bringing attention to the situation on Wednesday.
State Sen. Steve Russell said the recently signed federal hate crimes legislation oversteps the Constitution. He’s authored a bill that will be introduced in the State Senate in 2010 to protect Oklahomans from encroachments on speech, assembly and religious beliefs.
Sen. Constance N. Johnson on Monday commended Justin Jones, Director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC), for prudent use of taxpayer dollars following a recent announcement of targeted budget cuts within the agency. DOC recently announced that it would reduce its private prison space contracts by five percent beginning this month.read more.
Unfunded Mandates Will ‘Blow Up’ State Budget
Saying the health care reform bill working its way through Congress would break the bank in Oklahoma state government, Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee and House Speaker Chris Benge called on Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation to vote against the bill.read more.
Members of the Senate Republican Rural Caucus met Tuesday and called on the Governor to allocate 5% of his discretionary stimulus funds to the Department of Human Services, specifically for the Senior Nutrition Program.read more.
Says Minority Leadership Knows Reality of DHS Cuts;
Are Disingenuous, Considering Their Past Inactions on Budget Issues
Senator Mike Johnson (R-Kingfisher), suggested Senate Democrats might have considered camping out on the Capitol grounds in 2003 to protest their own leadership’s inaction on the DHS budget cuts at that time, and offered a civics lesson on how state government works.read more.
Two Republican State Senators are sounding the alarm bell today regarding both versions of national healthcare reform that would devastate at least one new health care facility in Oklahoma City and cost Oklahoma County and surrounding environs over 500 jobs.read more.