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Murdock's Minutes

All-time high $10.3 billion appropriations certified

 

January 30, 2022



The 2022 legislative session will get underway Feb. 7. Last month, the state Board of Equalization (BOE) met to make its initial certification of how much revenue would be available for the Legislature to appropriate for the coming budget year. The amount certified, $10.3 billion, is an all-time high, although about $1.3 billion is from one-time carryover funds and special cash from past sessions. But that means about $9 billion is from recurring revenues – that’s about $2 billion more than the first year I served in the Legislature.

I believe we have an obligation to return some of that money to the taxpayers. In recent years, some exemptions were removed and taxes were increased to pay the bills during downturns in the economy. Yes, when it comes to the one-time funds, we need to be fiscally conservative and save some of that for future downturns. But we cannot forget where those tax dollars came from, and that’s from the people. I’ll always fight for their ability to keep more of their hard-earned money over growing government.

Jan. 20 was the deadline for filing bills ahead of the 2022 session. A total of 774 Senate Bills and 23 Senate Joint Resolutions were filed. Another 771 Senate Bills and 25 Senate Joint Resolutions were carried over from the 2021 session and are available for consideration during the 2022 session. I filed 29 bills dealing with a range of topics, from public safety and education to election integrity and supporting Oklahoma’s agriculture producers.

Changes in how the Tax Commission handled the tax exemption for agricultural producers prompted me to file legislation last session and hold an in-depth interim study in the fall to look at how we could improve the process. One problem was that the producer was required to basically reapply for the exemption every three years. I felt that was unnecessary red tape. After working with the Tax Commission, they’ve agreed to streamline the process by allowing those previously approved to simply check off a box indicating they’d already met the qualifications for the tax exemption. I have legislation that will also put that policy in state law as well as raising the penalty for lying about qualifying for the exemption from a misdemeanor to a felony. People who cheat the system this way are not only cheating public safety, schools, public health and more out of the funds they need to serve our citizens, but they’re also putting this much-needed exemption at risk.

I think you are going to see several bills debated this year dealing with how we can make our election system even more secure and better protect its integrity. Along those lines, I’ve filed a bill aimed at preventing out-of-state money from flooding into Oklahoma to influence the outcome of state questions on the ballot. I did some research into some recent criminal justice reform questions and found that about $300,000 was donated from here in Oklahoma, $1.2 million came from the state of New York.

These laws impact the people of Oklahoma, and as far as I am concerned that’s who should decide these issues—not east and west coast liberals who don’t live or work here, much less have to deal with the consequences of our state questions. My legislation would make sure Oklahomans are truly deciding these issues for themselves and put a stop to these out-of-state efforts to shape our criminal laws and other public policies.

It is my honor to serve you in the Oklahoma State Senate. You can reach me by calling 405-521-5626 or emailing [email protected]

 

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