Friday, March 01, 2024

State Sen. Roger Thompson gives update on Senate’s new budget transparency efforts

Sen. Roger Thompson offers update on Senate’s budget transparency efforts

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 29th) – Senate Appropriations Chairman Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, said the Oklahoma Legislature’s upper chamber is on its way toward making this year’s budget process more transparent than ever.

The public got its first glimpse at proposed state agency appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year in a Wednesday meeting of the Appropriations Committee. 

The Board of Equalization certified lawmakers will have nearly $14 billion to appropriate for the fiscal year that begins July 1. About $11.6 billion of that is recurring revenue, according to Senate estimates. After taking into account the $312 million estimated cost of eliminating the state portion of the grocery sales tax in the upcoming fiscal year, only about $132 million in recurring revenue remains above base level state agency expenses, according to Senate estimates.  

The Senate panel approved funding recommendations for about 10 health and human services agencies on Wednesday. The panel also made real-time changes to the Senate’s proposed budget for the upcoming year as it heard dozens of bills with fiscal impacts. 

Thompson stressed that the budget figures are subject to change.

“We are still at the beginning of the process so these numbers will not be our final numbers,” Thompson said. “This is a dynamic process. It is a fluid process, and it is a work in progress.”

Senate appropriations subcommittees invited state agency heads to discuss their proposed budgets in public meetings, which has allowed senators to dig deep into the funding for various areas of state government. Then, for each agency, those subcommittees are making appropriation recommendations to the full Appropriations Committee.

“The Senate’s new budget transparency process has led senators to ask more questions on proposed agency budgets and appropriations bills, spurring robust discussions on state spending priorities,” Thompson said. “Never before has the public had such an in-depth look at how we determine which budget priorities are most important for the people of Oklahoma.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee will finalize in March a proposed state budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which will then go before the full chamber. 

Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, has said ushering in a more transparent budget process is a top priority for his final year in office.


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