A Tale of Two Budgets

A Tale of Two Budgets

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

Now that the Legislature and Governor Brad Henry have come to an agreement on filling the fiscal year 2010 budget hole, the new focus will be on crafting a budget for July onward.

The Legislature’s conservative leaders believe the most prudent course is to spread out reserve funds between the two budgets, using only three-eighths of the state’s Rainy Day fund to fill the current budget hole. I am pleased the agreement will maximize the resources we have to address fiscal year 2011.

The budget agreement provides a much-needed $80 million supplemental for our local K-12 schools and colleges. It will also provide a $33 million supplemental to the Health Care Authority and a $7.2 million supplemental to the Corrections Department, in order to address inmate growth and prevent furloughs.

I’ve said previously that Governor Henry’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2011 is a starting point. I take issue with at least one proposal; his budget eliminates funding for the Rural Economic Action Plan. However, I am proud to announce that Governor Henry has been convinced to maintain tax credits for rural firefighters. I will continue to fight for REAP funding in the budget.

On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee passed House Bill 2968, the first of five pieces of legislation I have in committee this week. Under my legislation, registered sex offenders would no longer be able to submit a P.O. Box or other address that cannot be mapped to the sex offender registry. Instead, they would have to submit a physical, map-able address.

Mine wasn’t the only important public safety legislation passed out of committee this week. House Bill 3380 will benefit Oklahomans by creating a registry for methamphetamine offenders. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics has reported a dramatic rise in meth labs in the state due to a new recipe for methamphetamine that requires less pseudoephedrine. A database of methamphetamine offenders will assist the law enforcement in cracking down on this dangerous trend.

I recently visited The Center of Family Love in Okarche, and met with Director Jim O’Brien. I couldn’t have been more impressed with Director O’Brien, his staff and the facility.

I will keep you regularly updated on the activities of the Legislature through this column. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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