Oklahoma State Legislature
For Immediate Release: February 23, 200
Senate and House leaders announced agreements on supplemental appropriations Thursday at the Capitol.
LR: Sen. Frank Shurden, Rep. Mark Liotta, Sen. Kenneth Corn, Rep. Jim Newport, Rep. John Trebilcock, Rep. Curt Roggow and Sen. Jeff Rabon.
House amp Senate Leaders Announce Supplemental Appropriations Agreement Legislative leaders in the House and Senate today announced a supplemental appropriations agreement that provides crucial funds for prisons, repairs for the states worst bridges and replenishes dollars spent fighting wildfires across Oklahoma. This is a true bipartisan agreement, and it emphasizes responsible government without raising taxes, said Speaker Todd Hiett RKellyville. I commend our budget negotiators who have worked hard to meet needs in Oklahoma, while acting as good stewards of taxpayers dollars. The people of Oklahoma expect us to work together in a businesslike way. And we have. We have a unique opportunity this session to make historic investments in the future of Oklahoma, said Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan. This bipartisan agreement represents the kind of approach that I am hopeful we can take throughout the session. We must look beyond the next election and focus on the next generation. Our budget framers have done that and they deserve recognition for their hard work and perseverance. Highlights of the agreement include: 00 million for the states worst bridges. About 93 million for the bridge fund would come from an infrastructure and economic development fund established last year. The remaining million would come from current cash sources. 2 million of state funds set aside for county bridges. The 2 million will come from expected surplus money estimated to exceed the allowed size of the Rainy Day account. Those funds will become available at the end of the fiscal year. The funds will be administered by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. Its been well documented that Oklahoma has the worst bridges in the nation. Theres no more responsible investment we could make with some of the surplus funds available to us this year than to give the Department of Transportation the resources it needs to make our roads and bridges safe for Oklahoma families, said Senator Frank Shurden, chairman of the Senate Appropriations SubCommittee on General Government and Transportation. This is the first step in making a responsible investment in our bridges and roads this year without raising taxes, said Rep. Jim Newport, RPonca City, vice chair of House Appropriations and Budget Committee. A 2 million supplemental appropriation for the Department of Corrections, providing for a 2,00 raise for corrections officers and prison facility staff. The 2 million will also allow the department to hire an additional corrections officers and 0 parole officers in the current fiscal year. Leaders have also agreed to annualize the supplemental to allow the addition of 0 corrections officers and 0 parole officers in FY 200. This is a businesslike solution that moves us toward making Oklahomas prisons and public safety a priority, while giving correctional officers better pay for protecting us from our most dangerous citizens, said Rep. John Trebilcock, RBroken Arrow, chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. Our courageous corrections officers continue to work in dangerous conditions. This agreement will give them all a boost in pay and allow the Department of Corrections to finally begin filling its vacant positions to create a safer environment inside and outside the walls of our states prisons, said Senator Kenneth Corn, chairman of the Senate SubCommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary. 3. million for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture to offset the costs of fighting wildfires since November . Weve seen firsthand by visiting the incident command post in Shawnee the cost and devastation caused by wildfires across the state this year. Rural firefighters have been real heroes to all of us, and they deserve our help, said Rep. Curt Roggow, REnid, chair of the House AampB Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services. With this appropriation we are addressing the immediate needs and making sure Oklahoma will be prepared should we be hit with another rash of wildfires in the coming weeks. We have several new proposals that are on the table and we will continue to look at the longterm needs of our rural fire departments throughout the session, said Senator Jeff Rabon, chairman of the Senate Appropriations SubCommittee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services. . million for OHLAP Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program to offset the casino gaming revenue shortfall. The agreement also includes funds for the state Supreme Court 3. million to offset a Judicial Fund shortfall, as well as ,000 for OSBI to provide support for a DNA evidence database. The bipartisan accord also fulfills previous agreements made by the Speaker, Senate President Pro Tempore and the governor for winter heating bills assistance . million and funds to celebrate Oklahomas centennial million.