Budget talks began this week at the State Capitol, resulting in the first bipartisan appropriations agreement of the 2008 legislative session.
Governor Brad Henry and legislative budget leaders announced Thursday that an agreement has been reached on supplemental funding for the Department of Corrections and the Office of Juvenile Affairs.
The agreement includes:
Department of Corrections $24,000,000
Office of Juvenile Affairs $2,000,000
Budget talks are expected to continue early next week. Negotiators will continue to review other agencies’ supplemental funding requests, and will discuss funding issues for the 2009 fiscal year.
“I appreciate the good work of legislative leaders, their respective budget chairmen, Treasurer Meacham and the many others involved in negotiating this agreement,” Henry said. “It is critical that we address the immediate needs of our prison system, and this agreement does that. Our goal now is to craft a larger budget that will adequately fund corrections for the entire fiscal year and eliminate the need for annual supplemental appropriations to DOC.”
“Public safety has been and will remain a top priority for the Legislature this session. This bipartisan agreement on supplementals only four weeks into session shows that,” said Chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee Ken Miller, R-Edmond. “We look forward to continuing to work hard on the budget as we seek additional agreements on the other requested supplementals and funding for fiscal year 2010.”
“This early, bipartisan agreement on supplemental funding for two critical public safety agencies is a positive indicator that the budget process can run smoothly this session,” stated Senate Appropriations Committee Co-Chairman Mike Johnson (R-Kingfisher). “It is also the first step in keeping our pledge to fully fund the Department of Corrections now and in the future.”
“We felt it was extremely important to make funding the public safety needs of our state our first priority,” Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield, Senate budget panel co-chairman (D-Ardmore) said. “Now that we have an agreement that will help create a safer Oklahoma, we can continue working on the funding needs of our state’s educational institutions and other critical state services upon which all Oklahomans depend.”
Henry concluded, “This is just a small, first step in what will be a very challenging budget process, but it is an important step, and I applaud everyone for working together in an inclusive, bipartisan manner. If we continue to cooperate in this fashion, and I believe we will, we will be able to address the state’s budget challenges and other issues in an efficient and effective manner.”