Governor Mary Fallin, House Speaker T.W. Shannon, Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman and appropriations chairmen in the state Legislature today reached an agreement on a proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2014. The agreement outlines a fiscally conservative blueprint for state government, holding the line on spending for most agencies while providing targeted increases in resources for education, health, child welfare and infrastructure.
Examples of targeted increases include:
- $91 million for common education, including: $74M in FY 2014 to support reform efforts and get more resources into classrooms; a $17M supplemental for common education to fund teacher health benefits and other costs in FY 2013
- $33 million for Higher Education and $3 million for Career Technology to support operations and the goal of awarding more degrees and career certificates
- $40 million for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to support operations, including Sooner Care
- $1.2 million for the Department of Health to support infant mortality reduction initiatives and to implement new inspections of long term care facilities for veterans
- $17.4 million for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse to support initiatives including suicide prevention, prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment, counseling for children with mental illnesses, and "smart on crime" initiatives like the Justice Reinvestment Act
- $44 million for the Department of Human Services to support operations, including the implementation of the Pinnacle Plan and the reduction of the waiting list for services offered to individuals with developmental disabilities
- $30 million to Maintenance of State Buildings Revolving Fund and $60 million for repairs and renovation of the State Capitol
Governor Mary Fallin said, "Today's budget deal holds the line on spending for most agencies, and continues to reinforce the idea that state government must operate more efficiently and effectively, not simply ask taxpayers to write a larger check. At the same time, it recognizes that there are a limited number of priority areas that require more resources to succeed. Chief among them are education and health services. These are quality of life issues as well as economic issues. For Oklahoma to continue its remarkable economic growth and create more jobs, we need a healthy, highly educated and highly skilled workforce. Our focus on improving education and health will continue to make the state a better place to live, locate a business and raise a family. My thanks go out to our legislators for working so hard with me to create this fiscally conservative roadmap for the state. "
House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, said, "This budget reflects conservative leadership's commitment to core government services. We have produced a sensible budget without taking on debt, and we are investing in education to better prepare our children for tomorrow. This deal also takes the first steps toward the state becoming better stewards of the people's infrastructure by dedicating funds to maintenance and repair of state buildings. This Legislature will continue to work to create conservative policies that are mindful of the taxpayers' money and create opportunity and a more prosperous future for Oklahomans."
Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said "This is a balanced budget with a focus toward fundamental priorities like teaching in the classroom, improving child welfare, and responsibly maintaining our infrastructure investments. I'm proud of our conservative approach to limit government growth while still meeting important obligations in education, health, and human services. We know funding historic education reforms is essential to our continued economic growth, and I'm proud of the progress we're making to better care for our state's most vulnerable children. Job creators are watching Oklahoma, and what they're seeing is a state committed to an educated workforce, to healthier citizens, and to pro-growth policies backed by low taxes and spending restraint."