By Rep. Mike Sanders
Governor Mary Fallin has a plan to fill in the current budget hole by tapping about $300 million in government waste. Agency revolving funds have been created again and again over the long history of our state until they have been a holding place for unused money.
I was thrilled to hear of the governor’s plan in her 2015 State of the State address on the first day of the legislative session. Conservative leadership has repeatedly delivered on a promise to eliminate waste while putting more money into essential services.
The governor also spoke about improving the state budgeting process. She noted that legislators will only appropriate 47 percent of total Oklahoma tax receipts, meaning that a lot of money goes directly to the state “off the top.” While I support giving legislators more discretion, I also do not want to alter “off the top” transportation funding, which is catching our state up after years of underfunding.
Governor Fallin proposed the adoption of performance informed budgeting that links spending to measureable goals and outcomes. She also wants to require that every tax credit and economic incentive be evaluated through a process established by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The governor called for a $25 million increase to education, $15 million increase to the prison system and a $5 million increase to mental health. I wholeheartedly support her attempt to boost core state government services.
This session, I will be focused on ensuring that transportation funding remains intact. As chair of the budget subcommittee on transportation, this is my primary responsibility. I will also look to protect our rural way of life by pushing for Rural Economic Action Plan funding in the budget and weigh in on policy issues such as conservation and draught relief that affect Western Oklahoma communities.
I am looking forward to working closely with the governor and my Senate colleagues in the upcoming months to improve Oklahoma in a responsible, efficient manner.
I will talk to you more about the progress of legislation in next week’s column. My door is open to you at all times. You can reach my legislative office at (405) 557-7407, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by Room 205 at 2300 North Lincoln Boulevard in Oklahoma City.