Unfunded mandates by any other name are still unfunded mandates, and legislation proposing new unfunded mandates should stand the scrutiny of the General Conference Committee on Appropriations, Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson said Monday.
The Senate voted Monday afternoon to reject House Amendments on Senate Bill 492, a measure that would require doctors to provide additional information to women seeking abortions. The measure also includes additional reporting requirements.
“Every important issue which can potentially have an impact on the budget deserves careful consideration by the full general conference committee. This is not a commentary on the substance of the bill, but rather on its price tag,” Hobson said.
A fiscal impact study prepared by the Oklahoma State Department of Health reveals that that annual cost of implementation of the provisions of Senate Bill 492 would total an estimated $373,000. When another $800,000 in matching federal dollars is included, the fiscal impact of SB 492 totals nearly $1.2 million.
The projected costs include purchase of computer and phone equipment, annual maintenance and technical support, personnel and publishing costs.
“It’s somewhat irresponsible to bring forward proposals that add to government spending in the face of a nearly $700 million budget deficit.
Every unfunded mandate must be weighed against the other painful budgetary decisions we are being forced to make – the elimination of services for our elderly, a reduction in the number of state troopers, furloughs for correctional officers and other state employees and the elimination of health care services for thousands of Oklahomans,” said Hobson, D-Lexington.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater, said there are 70 other bills with fiscal impact that are being sent to the General Conference Committee on Appropriations.
“Why should this bill be any different? It is fiscally irresponsible to vote for this bill when all those other 70 bills are out there waiting to be considered in conference,” Morgan said.
SB 492 will now be considered by the joint House-Senate GCCA.