The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Oklahoma state Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2014 General Appropriations Budget to fund state government operations on Tuesday. HB 2301 passed the Senate by a vote of 28-20.
HB 2301 is a fiscally conservative budget plan for Fiscal Year 2014, including targeted increases in resources for teaching in the classroom, child welfare, and the maintenance of state-owned assets. Most state agencies will not see an increase in spending under HB 2301. In total, the General Appropriations Budget includes approximately $7.1 billion.
President Pro Tem Brian Bingman called HB 2301 a balanced budget with a focus toward basic priorities.
“This is a responsible and fiscally conservative budget, with increases targeted to core government services—education, infrastructure and human services,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “The budget includes more than $90 million of additional funding for common education—money to keep the promises we’ve made to support historic education reforms, to fund benefits that our teachers depend on every month, and to put more dollars in the classroom.”
Examples of targeted increases include:
· $91 million for common education, including: $74 million in FY 2014 to support reform efforts and get more resources into classrooms; a $17 million supplemental for common education to fund teacher health benefits and other costs in FY 2013
· $33 million for Higher Education and $3 million for Career Technology to support operations and the goal of awarding more degrees and career certificates
· $40 million for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to support operations, including Sooner Care
· $1.2 million for the Department of Health to support infant mortality reduction initiatives and to implement new inspections of long term care facilities for veterans
· $17.4 million for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse to support initiatives including suicide prevention, prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment, counseling for children with mental illnesses, and “smart on crime” initiatives like the Justice Reinvestment Act
· $44 million for the Department of Human Services to support operations, including the implementation of the Pinnacle Plan and the reduction of the waiting list for services offered to individuals with developmental disabilities
· $30 million to the Maintenance of State Buildings Revolving Fund and $60 million for repairs and renovation of the State Capitol
Senate Appropriations Chairman Clark Jolley noted the importance of targeted funding increases for core government services.
“This budget represents a conservative approach to limit the growth of government while still investing in teaching in the classroom, in child welfare, and our infrastructure management,” said Jolley, R-Edmond. “We know we need to see increased dollars go to kids in the classroom, and we must press forward with monumental reforms to our child welfare services. These are fundamental core services, and this budget fulfills our most important commitments while delivering on a tax cut for the people of Oklahoma.”
HB 2301 will now advance to the governor for her signature.