April Marks Bill Signings, Budget Work

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

According to the Oklahoma Constitution, lawmakers are required to create a balanced budget for the state that will serve as the budget for the next fiscal year. This next fiscal year begins July 1, 2013 and ends June 30, 2014.

In December, the State Board of Equalization estimates the amount that lawmakers will have to appropriate during the next fiscal year. In January, state agencies and other appropriated entities testify before the Oklahoma House of Representatives Appropriations and Budge Committee for the upcoming year. During the State of the State address, Gov. Mary Fallin outlined her proposed budget based on this December estimate. This certified revenue comes from six primary sources – personal income taxes, general sales taxes, gross production taxes, motor vehicle taxes, motor fuels taxes and corporate income taxes. A small portion of revenues come from a variety of other sources such as fees.

This past February, the State Board of Equalization certified approximately $7 billion for appropriation during the 2014 fiscal year.

The budget plan is originated in the House and Senate appropriations committees and subcommittees. As chair of the Appropriations and Budget Transportation subcommittee, we take input from state agencies, the governor and the public, when creating the budget plan. This plan then turns into multiple bills to create a base level for state government funding in the event that a final budget cannot be reached unanimously. These bills then wait for approval by the House and Senate and are then sent over to Gov. Mary Fallin for her to either sign it into law or veto it.

Recently, a few bills have passed the Senate and House and now move forward to Gov. Mary Fallin for her signature or veto. The first was approved unanimously by the House and targets welfare fraud in Oklahoma. Senate Bill 456 would create a toll free hotline, where people can report fraud to anonymously, to be posted in every county office. The next two have recently been passed by the Senate and targets human trafficking. The first bill deals specifically with survivors of human trafficking and helping them. The second bill is aimed at minor victims who were forced into the sex trade. It is important to recognize who the real criminals are, the traffickers, not the children and teens who are forced into prostitution.

Finally, April 15, 2012 marked a tragic day for the folks in Woodward. An EF3 tornado tore through the community taking lives and destroying homes and businesses. Please remember those who perished and continue praying for healing throughout the Woodward community. Following the recent terrorist attacks that happened in Boston, our hearts go out to those individuals and their families that were affected by this tragic event that occurred at the Boston Marathon. This tragic event reminds us all of the April 19, 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, a tragedy that will not be forgotten.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at (405) 557-7407, or email me at mike.sanders@okhouse.gov.

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