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Oklahoma Lawmakers Eye Budget, Hope For Adjournment This Week

Kurt Gwartney
/
KGOU

Oklahoma lawmakers are preparing to take up budget bills for the upcoming year as they look toward an early adjournment of the 2014 Legislature.

Members of the House and Senate return to the Capitol Tuesday afternoon to consider enacting a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The Senate was expected to take up the fiscal year 2015 general appropriations bill Monday but did not do so, while a number of other measures won approval on the floor.

“We are trying to make sure all the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed,” said state Sen. Clark Jolley (R-Edmond) who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, as well as the Senate Joint Appropriations and Budget Committee. “The House has put together all its trailer bills and we want to have everything lined out before we run it.”

Senate Bill 2127, by Jolley, state Sen. Ron Justice (R-Chickasha), state Rep. Scott Martin (R-Norman) and state Rep. Earl Sears (R-Bartlesville), makes general appropriations to state agencies.

Both the House and Senate Joint Appropriations and Budget Committees met Monday, approving a number of appropriations trailer bills and budget limit measures.

If the Senate hears and passes the bill Tuesday, it cannot be heard in the House until Thursday. Leaders from both chambers have indicated they would like finish their work by Friday. Budget bills must be approved and signed into law before they go into effect.

Gubernatorial candidate and state Rep. Joe Dorman (D-Rush Springs) says he's disappointed with the budget proposal. In a video yesterday, Dorman says of the $80 million bump in funding to K-12 education, roughly half of that goes toward increased health insurance costs.

http://youtu.be/WuaZxVa39KY

"The other $40 million will be put through the formula to meet the costs of the increased population of what we're seeing in the schools,” Dorman says. “Now roughly of the new dollars that will go in, about 10 million dollars, that's going to be about a $2 per student, per month breakdown."

Lawmakers are constitutionally required to adjourn no later than May 30, but they have said they hope to adjourn one week early.

Legislation awaiting action include a $120 million bond issue to repair the crumbling Capitol building and a bond issue up to $40 million for a new building that would house the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

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