The Norman Transcript

Opinion

May 7, 2013

New budget is fiscally responsible

NORMAN — Over the course of the legislative session, the crafting of the state budget is the biggest task we face each spring.

As chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, I am a part of that process every step of the way.

It’s daunting, but it is rewarding to be working on the ground floor of what will become next year’s budget. I work with an incredible budget team of fellow legislators and fiscal staff.

I’m happy to report to you that the budget for Fiscal Year 2014 has been agreed to by the governor’s office and leadership in the state House and state Senate. In other words, a deal is in place to operate our state in the upcoming year and has come weeks earlier than normal.

In addition to being completed early, I’m proud that it is fiscally conservative while providing increases where resources are most needed, such as education, transportation, health, child welfare and infrastructure.

The budget for FY 2014 is slated at $7.1 billion.

It should be fully passed out of the legislature soon and signed by Gov. Mary Fallin later this month.

While there are many aspects of this budget I like, I am especially happy that education funding was protected and advanced.

The field saw a targeted increase to the tune of $91 million for common education — 43 percent of the growth revenue we had to budget this year.

Historically, common education is about 35 percent of our entire state budget.

Also included is a $33 million increase for higher education and $3 million more for career tech funding.

More than half of all the new growth revenue, nearly 60 percent, is going to education. That’s important as Oklahoma’s tomorrow is nurtured in today’s classrooms.

Other targeted increases include:

· $40 million for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to support programs such as SoonerCare

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