The Norman Transcript

Opinion

November 2, 2012

Budgeting process needs some ‘sanity’

NORMAN — Oklahoma lawmakers are often hit with agency requests for supplemental appropriations. Corrections, for example, is routinely short-funded. Lawmakers add to the budget when they return each spring and then scramble at session’s end to fund the General Appropriations bill.

The target is usually one-time, non-recurring revenues that materialize during the year. They are used to plug budget holes that come from recurring expenses. The state’s treasurer wants to end that kind of “insanity” budgeting.

Treasurer Ken Miller, writing in the monthly Oklahma Economic Report, said such budgeting practices should only be used in extreme recessionary times. Last year as revenue grew, lawmakers spent almost $400 million in non-recurring funds to increase the budget by 5 percent over the prior year.

Corrections is seeking an increase of about $67 million in its fiscal 2014 forecast.

Part of it will fund provisions of the Justice Reinvestment Act, a sweeping revision of how the state deals with prisoners at the end of their sentences.

If voters approve next week, State Question 762 is expected to save taxpayers up to $50 million over the next decade.

That figure comes from the average 100 extra days in prison that an inmate serves while waiting for the governor to sign off on a parole recommendation.

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