By Rep. Mike Sanders
I voted no on the stop-gap budget bill this week.
From day one I have been a supporter of the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges (CIRB) Fund. I have voted against state budgets in the past because they dipped too heavily into transportation. It’s one thing when our partners in transportation tell us they have enough to complete their projects and that we can pull the excess for other necessary state services. But, when Western Oklahoma county commissioners tell me this will hurt projects currently in the five-year plan, I believe them, and I stand with them.
Safe and well-maintained roadways are a vital part of our infrastructure, allow for economic development in rural Oklahoma and, most of all, assure our families can travel safely in their daily routines.
The state’s top three medical and health agencies will be funded, and the agency directors were very supportive of this bill. Keeping our rural nursing homes and hospitals open was my top priority of this special session.
Twelve agencies will receive no cuts. These include common education, the state Health Department, Corrections and the Indigent Defense System, among others.
One source of revenue for the state budget is a removal of a remaining credit on gross production taxes on legacy oil wells (those drilled before July 2015) from 4 percent to 7 percent. This will bring in almost $49 million this fiscal year and about $100 million next year.
In the meantime, the state receives some positive economic news. October gross receipts rose by 10.6 percent over the same month a year ago. This is the first time for double-digit growth in the last 4½ years. It’s also significant that nine out of 10 months this calendar year have shown growth over the previous year as have almost all major revenue streams.
Our No. 1 mission during this special session was to take care of the health care crisis, and we have done that. Now we are preparing for next session. The House is still committed to a teacher and state employee pay raise, and we will continue to fight for that among other priorities.
Can’t Support Cut to Transportation
Do you like this post?