Oklahoma State Senate

Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

Audio Clip

For Immediate Release: March 11, 2003

Sens Coffee, Williamson and Pruitt talk to reporters about Republican budget proposals.
Sens. Coffee, Williamson and Pruitt talk to
reporters about Republican budget proposals

Senate GOP Seeks to Break Fiscal Deadlock
With ‘Common Sense’ Budget Proposal

State Capitol, Oklahoma City – Senate Republicans unveiled a compromise proposal for the FY04 state budget aimed at breaking the partisan deadlock over fiscal issues at the State Capitol.

“The Republican caucus is presenting a common sense budget framework that reforms the budget process and protects funding levels for the most important functions of state government – without a tax increase on Oklahoma families,” stated Senator James Williamson, R-Tulsa, the Senate Republican Floor Leader.

“This is a positive proposal that funds our priorities without making severe cuts to the rest of state government. I hope we can now proceed together to fund education first and in the immediate future,” said Senator Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, an Assistant Republican Floor Leader.

“Our budget helps prioritize spending and requires government efficiency through zero-based budgeting. It seeks to reign in the out-of-control spending we have seen in recent legislative sessions that has depleted the rainy day fund and led to the current budget crisis,” stated Senator Scott Pruitt, R-Broken Arrow, an Assistant Republican Floor Leader.

Williamson concluded, “Our budget includes many of Governor Henry’s proposals, and we are very close to the governor’s overall budget numbers. The Senate Republican leadership team will present this budget proposal at today’s bipartisan leadership meeting with the Governor. Our caucus hopes this proposed compromise can produce an immediate budget agreement that protects public education and spares the people of Oklahoma from the burden of additional taxes during these tough economic times,” Williamson said.

FUNDING HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The GOP budget proposes $5.186 billion in spending for Fiscal Year 2004, and includes a $16 million budget surplus for FY04. The budget would essentially be frozen at net FY03 levels with a decrease of just 1/10th of one-percent from the total net FY03 spending, while restoring this week’s new cuts.

  • The budget increases common education and Medicaid healthcare funding to Governor Henry’s proposed funding levels.

  • The budget holds harmless total funding for Governor Henry’s cabinet categories of veterans, education, health and human services, transportation, environment, and the judiciary at the net FY03 levels.

  • The budget accepts Gov. Henry’s funding levels for the general cabinet categories of human resources and administration, secretary of state, agriculture, commerce and tourism, energy, military affairs, and science and technology. The budget also accepts Governor Henry’s proposed funding for safety and security, but includes an additional 5 percent for corrections.

  • The budget cuts the Governor’s office, the Legislature, and the finance and revenue cabinet category by 10 percent from net FY03 funding. Funding for the Lieutenant Governor’s office would be rolled back to FY00 levels.

REVENUE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The budget generates $280 million in new revenues without a tax increase.

  • The budget accepts Governor Henry’s proposal to utilize one time use of premiums for firefighters, law enforcement, and police retirement programs. It also accepts Henry’s proposals to transfer cash from various agency revolving funds to a special cash fund, and to accept Henry’s proposal to refinance various state bond issues.

  • The Senate Republicans also pledged to provide enough votes from their caucus to help Democrats pass up to $65 million of Governor Henry’s proposed user fee increases.

  • The budget proposes the privatization of CompSource Oklahoma, a state-owned workers’ compensation insurance company. It also includes a federal election reform bonus obtained by U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook for Oklahoma.

  • The budget adopts zero-based budgeting, which Republicans conservatively estimate will lead to an additional 1 percent in savings through increased efficiency.

ASSOCIATED BUDGET REFORMS / REQUESTS:

  • Establish zero-based budgeting, to be used in calculating FY04 state budget.

  • Fund FY04 common education this week.

  • Allow a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment requiring the Legislature to fund common education by March 1 each year.

  • Fund Corrections, Public Safety, and Health Care Authority no later than April 1.

  • Ensure ad valorem fund reimbursements to public schools are fully funded.

  • Implement financial incentives to encourage voluntary consolidation of public school administration and services.

  • Explore feasibility of using local funds to obtain additional Medicaid federal matching funds.

  • Require revenue shortfall provisions in state contracts, and allow salary reductions in the event of shortfalls.

For more information, contact:
Senator James Williamson - (405) 521-5624


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