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.
The Governor has $105.2 million of federal stimulus dollars to use at his discretion. Five percent of the Governor’s discretionary stimulus money would amount to $5.26 million. The members of the Senate Republican Rural Caucus pointed out that a 5% reduction in the Governor’s discretionary funds would be equivalent to the 5% cut that has been made to all state agency budgets.
The Senior Nutrition Program across the state has been cut recently by $7.4 million, resulting in the closure of some senior nutrition facilities and the elimination of meals to many of our most vulnerable citizens.
“This is an issue that is important for all Oklahomans,” said Senator Patrick Anderson, R-Enid. “We recognize that all state agencies and programs are experiencing a funding shortfall. But we feel this particular program is critically important, especially as we move into the winter months. It is not our intent to attack the Governor by calling on him to act, but we are offering this proposal as a reasonable solution to solve the immediate crisis.”
“All the members of the Senate Republican Rural Caucus are concerned about Oklahoma’s seniors,” added Senator Ron Justice, R-Chickasha, Senate Republican Rural Caucus Chairman. “We would like to find ways to protect the health and well being of seniors across the state and accomplish it in a bipartisan fashion.”
Anderson added that the Senate Republican Rural Caucus recognizes the $5.26 million is not enough to completely fill this hole, but it would substantially improve the situation.
The Republican Rural Caucus is made up of 13 members: Senators Ron Justice of Chickasha, District 23; Patrick Anderson of Enid, District 19; Don Barrington of Lawton, District 31; Jim Halligan of Stillwater, District 21; Harry Coates of Seminole, District 28; John Ford of Bartlesville, District 29; Brian Bingman of Sapulpa, District 12; Mike Johnson of Kingfisher, District 22; Todd Lamb of Edmond, District 47; Bryce Marlatt of Woodward, District 27; David Myers of Ponca City, District 20; Mike Schulz of Altus, District 38; Anthony Sykes of Newcastle, District 24. The purpose of the Republican Rural Caucus is to provide a voice for the citizens of rural, small town Oklahoma and promote their issues at the State Capitol.