Budget, Redistricting Plans Unveiled

By Rep. Mike Sanders

I have big news to report. A budget agreement was reached between legislative leaders and the governor and a redistricting plan for House districts has been released.

The budget will not make everyone happy. We wanted to protect the core areas of the budget as much as possible but, at the end of the day, we are all in this together and every agency and area of the budget should take their fair cut.

I was pleased the Rural Economic Action Plan funding that aids rural fire departments remained in the budget, even if it was cut by 7 percent. We also protected public safety funding. The Department of Public Safety received only a 4 percent cut and the Department of Corrections received almost no cut, preventing the need for furloughs.

Not all the savings came from cuts. I am proud that we had the political will to consolidate information technology services and some central service agencies. For years, duplicate systems have been the norm, business as usual. It’s time that practice stops. Tax dollars are your dollars, not the money of some Oklahoma City bureaucrat.

In all, I think this is the best we can get out of negotiations and I will support the proposed budget plan.

The redistricting plan is the result of our legal obligation to make the districts of equal population every 10 years. Negotiating new district boundaries was an intense process and I am glad to say much of my district remains intact. My district will also remain rural, which I think is very important.

The district boundaries in Blaine, Dewey and Kingfisher counties will remain the same. I will gain a portion of rural northern Canadian County that does not include any municipalities, but does include the prison near El Reno. I will also expand further into Woodward County. My new district boundary will run from the northwest corner of the county run right south of Fort Supply. Unfortunately, I am sad to say after the 2012 election, my district will no longer include Major County.

It has been an honor representing the residents and municipalities of the southern and eastern portions of Major County. My door will always be open to them and I will always be willing to assist them and the lawmaker who will represent them after 2012.

The legislation that will enact the proposed changes is out of conference committee and ready for a vote on the House floor. It could still change, but I believe it will likely be the final proposal.

I would like to congratulate the Hennessey Girls Track Team and the Watonga Boys Track Team on their 2A state championship victories this past Saturday. For the Watonga team, which also won the state academic title, this is their eighth championship. Both teams deserve recognition for their excellent coaches, determined players, and supportive families.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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