Capitol Insider: Record Revenues Available For Appropriation In 2022 Legislative Session
The State Board of Equalization has certified that more than 10 billion dollars is available for the legislature and governor to spend in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget.
Dick Pryor: This is Capitol Insider, your weekly look inside Oklahoma politics, policy and government. I'm Dick Pryor with Shawn Ashley, publisher of Quorum Call, formerly known as eCapitol. First, Shawn, tell us about Quorum Call.
Shawn Ashley: Well, as you mentioned, Quorum Call is formerly eCapitol. eCapitol’s founder Linda Maxey decided to retire at the end of 2021 and presented me with the opportunity to continue the nearly 30-year tradition of providing up-to-the minute and accurate legislative tracking and news services to our customers. It was an opportunity I just could not refuse.
Dick Pryor: Absolutely, and congratulations.
Shawn Ashley: Thank you very much.
Dick Pryor: The legislative session begins in a month. Governor Stitt will deliver the State of the State and present his executive budget. And for the first time, an Oklahoma governor has more than ten billion dollars to work with. Shawn, what do the governor and legislative leaders want to do with that money, which was recently certified as available in the fiscal year ahead, by the State Board of Equalization?
Shawn Ashley: After the Board of Equalization meeting on Dec. 27, Governor Stitt was quick to point out that only nine-point-one billion of the ten-point-three billion in total appropriations authority was recurring revenue. That is money that the state could expect to collect again in fiscal year 2024 and beyond. He said his proposed budget would spend no more than the nine-point-one billion in recurring revenue. He said he would propose saving some of the difference and might consider using some of that (for) one-time expenses, particularly for infrastructure-related costs. House Appropriations and Budget Chair Kevin Wallace and Senate Appropriations Chair Roger Thompson agreed, saying re-occurring expenses should only be funded with recurring revenue to avoid potential budget shortfalls.
Dick Pryor: Some other encouraging economic news to start the year: December Gross Receipts to the Treasury in Oklahoma were up.
Shawn Ashley: That's right, State Treasurer Randy McDaniel reported Thursday that December gross receipts of one-point-four billion dollars and 12 months receipts of fifteen- point-two billion dollars set new all-time highs, beating last December's collections by 22 percent and the 2020 calendar year receipts by more than 15 percent. That's consistent with the forecast for the remainder of fiscal year 2022, the current fiscal year that the Board of Equalization was presented at that December 27th meeting,
Dick Pryor: There will be a new House Speaker Pro Tem when the session begins, following the announcement that Representative Terry O'Donnell, Republican from Catoosa, will resign from the post February 2nd. Why is O'Donnell resigning and what's he saying about it?
Shawn Ashley: O'Donnell and his wife were indicted in December by an Oklahoma County grand jury on a series of charges that alleged he used his power as a member of the House to modify statutes concerning motor vehicle licensing agents and presented an unlawful, corrupt, fraudulent application for motor license agent on behalf of his wife to obtain a contract with the Oklahoma Tax Commission to operate the tag agency in their hometown. O'Donnell said, “political operatives in Oklahoma City have a personal vendetta against me and are working to discredit our family's character and destroy our reputation.” He called that effort “the same Washington, D.C.- style partisan politics that have attacked our freedoms, values, national history, law enforcement, churches, economy and more. And just like voters reject these constant attacks,” he said, “and just like they reject the constant attacks on President Trump, I believe Oklahomans will do the same in this case.” O'Donnell said, “My wife and I are innocent, and we will fight back and vigorously defend our integrity.”
Dick Pryor: A couple of weeks remain before the bill filing deadline for the 2022 regular session. As we've been expecting, several of the bills filed relate to social and cultural issues. It's an election year and these types of bills generate a lot of talk and publicity, but what's the chance they become law, as introduced now?
Shawn Ashley: Well, it's really hard to say, but let me say this - it's early, and all bills will go through at least two committees and be heard in each chamber before they land on Governor Stitt’s desk. Keep in mind, around 600 of the more than 3,100 bills filed during the legislative session even made it to Governor Stitt’s desk. So, there's a lot of work yet to do, and even all those bills that receive a lot of work, many of them don't make them to the governor's desk.
Dick Pryor: Thanks, Shawn.
Shawn Ashley: You're very welcome.
Dick Pryor: And we'd like to hear from you. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us on Twitter @kgounews and @QuorumCallShawn. Until next time, with Shawn Ashley, I'm Dick Pryor.