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May 14, 2013

Dorman pushes zero-based budget

OKLAHOMA CITY — A longtime Democratic legislator said Monday that he plans to push for a statewide vote to require the Legislature to conduct “zero-based” budgeting on state agencies every four years.

Rep. Joe Dorman said he will introduce a joint resolution during next year’s session that, if approved, would send a proposed constitutional amendment to a vote of the people.

“When it comes to the budget, this isn’t a partisan issue,” said Dorman, D-Rush Springs. “I just don’t think a 15-minute question-and-answer period is enough to learn about an agency’s budget.”

Under the current budgeting process, Dorman said the Legislature typically just starts with how much was previously appropriated to the agency and adjusts based on available revenue.

Dorman’s plan is to require legislators and officials representing the governor and state auditor to carefully scrutinize agency budgets every year to determine how much state revenue should be appropriated. Agencies would revolve so that the in-depth budget analysis would be conducted every four years to coincide with a four-year term of a governor or state senator.

Dorman, who is in his sixth and final two-year term in the state House, said he plans to request an interim study be conducted in the fall on his proposal.

House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, would have to approve Dorman’s request and agree to have his bill heard next session, but Dorman said he expects support from both sides of the aisle for his proposal. He noted that several Republicans voiced opposition to the $7.1 billion general appropriations bill approved by the House last week because even rank-and-file members of the GOP majority had little input on budget negotiations.

Twelve House Republicans opposed the bill, which is expected to be approved by the Senate this week and sent to the governor.

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