The Norman Transcript

State/Region

April 27, 2013

Okla. lawmakers feeling left out of budget process

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

Shannon said the group had recently focused on agreements around a workers’ compensation overhaul and income tax cut proposal but will turn back to the broader budget this week. He added he thought the process was closer to being finished than it had been at this point in the past several years and that he still hopes to end the session a week early.

As for where the state’s roughly $7 billion for appropriations will go, Fallin and Shannon have left details vague. Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz pointed to the governor’s State of the State address in February, where she outlined priorities for mental health and human services.

Since then, state officials repeatedly have said education and public safety also need significant boosts in funding. How much they’ll get is unclear.

“I share the frustration about the budget process,” said Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Dacoma, the chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety. “My understanding is, for a number of these things, we’re being told by those we’re negotiating with there’s not going to be money available. That’s the political reality.”

In response to House members’ protests of a lack of involvement, Shannon said every member is on an appropriations subcommittee and the process simply has to work that way.

“When you’re one piece of a three-legged stool — especially in the House, when you’re the largest piece — we have to share that authority more than anybody else that’s involved in the process,” he said. “ “You know, 101 members, if they all craft their own budgets, we’d probably have 110 budgets.”

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