Alva Review-Courier -

Carl's Capitol Comments

House begins appropriation process

 

January 12, 2022



The state Board of Equalization met in late December, delivering an initial estimate of the amount of revenue the Legislature will have to appropriate for Fiscal Year 2023, which starts in July.

The board estimated $9.1 billion in recurring revenue and about $1.2 billion available in cash reserves. This could be the largest budget in state history. But just because we have an excess doesn't mean we should spend it all. We need to be very smart and make sure we're using taxpayer dollars properly.

House and Senate budget leaders and the governor say they prefer to keep agency budgets level this year. As we have the past few years, we're likely to save a portion of our revenue for any potential economic downturn. My concern is that when federal relief dollars stop coming, we may see needs in certain areas. It will be good to have cash reserves on hand to respond appropriately. It's always better to have savings than not, and we must be responsible with taxpayer dollars.

The information provided by the Board of Equalization will be helpful as we draft the state budget for FY23. Also helping inform our appropriations' decisions, later this month we will hear from the six state agencies that receive the largest amounts of state General Revenue Fund dollars. The State Department of Education, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the Department of Human Services, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and the Office of Management and Enterprise Services all will present budget performance reviews before the House later this month.

The reviews give an overview of how taxpayer dollars were spent last year on programs and services that benefit Oklahomans. They also deliver their budget requests for the next fiscal year and answer questions posed by lawmakers. These hearings are open to the public and can be viewed online through the House website.

At the same time, House Appropriations and Budget subcommittees will continue to meet to hear budget reviews from the agencies under their purview. The committee I chair – the House Appropriations & Budget Subcommittee for Natural Resources and Regulatory Services – was proactive and got our budget hearings done last month.

On a local note, we continue to receive proposals from communities for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds as part of the allocation of approximately $238 million available to Oklahoma towns with a population of less than 50,000. The funds can be used to support public health expenditures, to address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, replacing lost public sector revenue, providing premium pay for essential workers, or investing in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure. I'm working to make sure some of these dollars come back to our area.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. You may reach me by email at [email protected], or phone me at 405-557-7339. May God bless you and the State of Oklahoma.

 

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