The Norman Transcript


May 15, 2013

Senate OKs $7.1B budget bill

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Senate gave final legislative approval on Tuesday to a $7.1 billion general appropriations bill to fund state government for the upcoming fiscal year, overcoming the objections of Democrats and some Republicans who say the plan’s priorities are misguided.

The Senate voted 28-20 for the bill, which reflects an agreement between the governor and Republican legislative leaders. Eight Republicans joined the Senate’s 12 Democrats in opposing the bill, which required 25 votes for passage. It now heads to the Gov. Mary Fallin, who is expected to sign it.

The bill increases spending by nearly $270 million over the current year’s budget, with funding growth focused mostly on education, health care and human services.

“This is a responsible and fiscally conservative budget, with increases targeted to core government services — education, infrastructure and human services,” Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said in a statement.

Much of the opposition in the Senate centered on a $30 million appropriation to a fund designed to pay for improvements to state-owned buildings that was a priority of House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton. The money will be overseen by a commission that will develop a prioritized list of state properties in need of repair and state assets that could be liquidated to help pay for projects.

“We, as a body, can’t say how we’re going to spend $30 million,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Sean Burrage, D-Claremore. “I think this budget demonstrates bad business and misguided priorities.”

Several Republican members voiced concern that the money could be used to help finish construction of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City. The total costs of the museum, located along the Oklahoma River at the intersection of interstates 35 and 40, already have been estimated at $171 million.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Clark Jolley, who answered questions about the bill on the floor, acknowledged that some of the $30 million could be used on the project because it was a state-owned entity. But he described that possibility as a “phantom menace” because of legislative opposition to spending additional money on the project.

“I would be shocked if one dime of it was used on the Native American Cultural Center,” said Jolley, R-Edmond.

Jolley said he would be “equally shocked” if money from the fund was used to pay for a planned museum of popular culture in Tulsa.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Fallin disappointed SBAdenied loans

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Mary Fallin said Thursday she is disappointed that a federal agency denied a request for loans to businesses in two Oklahoma towns affected by an emergency bridge closure....

    April 18, 2014

  • Oklahoma Senate approves limits on abortion drug

    OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to further restrict the use of abortion-inducing drugs in Oklahoma in a bill written in direct response to a recent state Supreme Court decision....

    April 16, 2014

  • March Oklahoma revenue misses mark by 9.1 percent

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s finance secretary says collections by the general revenue fund fell 9.1 percent below the official estimate in March....

    April 16, 2014

  • University of Tulsa researchers find new species

    TULSA — A salamander first discovered by a University of Tulsa doctoral student in 2011 is being hailed as a new species in an international journal for animal taxonomy....

    April 16, 2014

  • Oklahoma House passes state trooper pay raise bill

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers could get their first pay raise in seven years under a plan given final legislative approval Tuesday, though it remains unclear whether money will be available in the overall state budget to ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Barresi decries plan to eliminate Okla. tests

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma State Superintendent Janet Barresi is raising concern about a bill before the Legislature that would eliminate state testing in social studies and geography....

    April 16, 2014

  • State-mandated minimum wage draws ire across state

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Organizers seeking a higher minimum wage in Oklahoma are upset with Gov. Mary Fallin’s decision to sign a bill that prohibits cities in the state from establishing mandatory minimum wage or vacation and sick-day ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Oklahoma’s 8-month streak without tornado falls

    TULSA — After Oklahoma’s eight-month streak without a tornado was snapped this weekend by a pair of suspected twisters, the state’s wild weather jag continued into Monday, with blowing snow from the Panhandle to Tulsa and freezing ...

    April 15, 2014

  • 4 now charged in college player’s death

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A fourth person was charged Monday in the death of an Australian baseball player who was fatally shot as he jogged in a southern Oklahoma neighborhood last summer....

    April 15, 2014

  • Fallin signs minimum wage increase ban

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Cities across Oklahoma are now prohibited from establishing mandatory minimum wage or vacation and sick-day requirements under a bill signed into law Monday by Gov. Mary Fallin....

    April 15, 2014