The Norman Transcript

Opinion

February 2, 2014

State legislative session opens with fewer dollars

NORMAN — A former Norman legislator used to say the easiest sessions were the ones where there was no growth revenue to distribute. No one came to see you because they already knew the answer was no.

That may be the case for this legislative session which opens Monday at the state Capitol. The state’s Board of Equalization has certified $171 million fewer dollars than in the past legislative session. Last year’s budget included $210 million in growth revenue.

That means some agencies will see some reductions unless a more optimistic forecast comes in the mid-February board meeting. State Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, told Norman Chamber of Commerce members there was some reason for optimism. Sales, income and gross production tax categories have risen.

“I’m hopeful we’ll be closer to even and those cuts will be less or none at all,” said Rep. Martin, chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget committee. “We’re growing and seeing success in certain areas.”

Lawmakers have already received budget requests that contain increases from higher education, corrections, mental health and substance abuse services and common schools. Additionally, the governor and others have proposed revisiting the personal income tax reduction which was struck down by the Supreme Court.

A couple of Norman-specific bills will be considered. One deals with the re-use of treated wastewater. The other deals with the potential sale of Griffin Hospital property should other hurdles be crossed.

Our local delegation has two Democrats and three Republicans. They have their differences but manage to pull together when University of Oklahoma or Norman municipal issues confront them.

 

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