Farm Bureau's Steve Thompson Offers Rural Analysis on $9.84 Billion State Budget for FY2023Tue, 17 May 2022 19:52:39 CDT
State lawmakers are inching closer to a final budget deal in the waning days of the 2022 State Legislative session. The number now appears to be 9.84 million dollars for the FY 2023 state budget. Oklahoma Farm Report's Ron Hays talked with Steve Thompson of Oklahoma Farm Bureau on Tuesday late afternoon about where things currently stand.
Thompson says that the general farm organization is pleased with several of the elements that make up the budget deal- brokered between the Senate and the House- apparently without much input from the Governor and his staff. According to NonDoc's Tres Savage, there is frustration by the Governor of not having more influence in the negotiations. Savage reports "Stitt's team was only welcomed into budget negotiations a week ago, on Tuesday, May 10. Last year, by comparison, the governor's team entered the room April 21, his staff said.
"This is abnormal for the governor's team not to see the budget until this late in the process," the state's chief operating officer, Steven Harpe, told NonDoc on May 9. "I don't think we'll be that far off. They've been good partners in the past, so we'll see."
"Stitt met with legislative leaders at the State Capitol until after midnight Tuesday, going through every line of the House and Senate budget agreement and discussing a few of Stitt's requests that did not make it into the slate of bills filed around sundown."
One of the positives for rural Oklahoma, according to Thompson, is money for the state to be able to respond to drought needs in the days ahead- "we're really pleased that three million dollars has been invested into the state's emergency drought assistance fund."
Thompson also points to the lawmakers providing resources through ODAFF for rural fire departments across the state- and money to help increase the number of meat inspectors hired by the state.
NonDoc offers this list of key parts of the overall budget package:
A 4.2 percent increase in funding for many state agencies, although some of those budgets reflect money designated for one-time investments and much of it dedicated to payroll;
More than $32 million to eliminate the waiting list for developmentally disabled Oklahomans seeking a waiver to receive home-based services;
$181 million for one-time rebates back to Oklahoma taxpayers at a rate of $75 for individuals filing as single and $150 for those filing as married. The rebates are set to be paid in December;
$14 million to fund pay raises for Department of Public Safety employees such as state troopers;
A 7.67 percent across-the-board pay raise for judges;
Elimination of a 1.25 percent excise tax on the purchase of motor vehicles;
$7 million for mental health provider rate increases and $2 million to increase access to acute behavioral health for children;
$2.5 million for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to hire more agents to investigate cases in its backlog of internet child predator reports;
One-time capital improvements for the Council of Law Enforcement Education and Training's rehabilitation of its facilities;
A 20 percent budget reduction for the Commissioners of the Land Office, which has been a subject of concern for some legislative leaders; and
$250 million for a new Progressing Rural Economic Prosperity Fund aimed at helping communities around the state develop industrial parks and pursue other development opportunities.
Not included in the budget is a proposed elimination of the state portion of sales tax on groceries neither is a decrease in the personal income tax (as was approved last year). Elimination of the state's franchise tax also did not make it into lawmakers' proposed budget, and prior-year appropriations of money to the Department of Commerce to recruit business investments were not reflected either.
Listen to Hays and Thompson talk about the politics of getting the FY2023 budget into place- and how the Governor may react to the plans advanced by the Legislature- by clicking on the Listen Bar below.
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