For Immediate Release: March 19, 2007
Senator Glenn Coffee
Senate GOP Leaders Praise Historic, Bipartisan Budget Agreement
Republican leaders in the
Oklahoma Senate praised a historic, bipartisan budget agreement.
The Senate is tied at 24 Republicans and 24 Democrats this year,
giving Senate Republicans an equal say in developing the budget
for the first time in history.
The agreement was announced Monday by Senate Co-President
Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee (R-Oklahoma City), Senate President
Pro Tempore Mike Morgan (D-Stillwater), and Speaker of the House
Lance Cargill (R-Harrah).
Coffee said the agreement proves that bipartisanship
can work at the Oklahoma Legislature.
“In recent years we have seen double-digit
spending increases and a special session on the budget. In contrast,
this year we have a historic, early agreement on a bipartisan
budget that meets the ‘Fund Education First’ deadline,
fully funds state government, provides tax relief to Oklahoma
families and small businesses, and shrinks overall spending
compared to last year,” stated Coffee.
“Reaching a budget agreement in mid-March
gives the Legislature a realistic chance to finish the people’s
business a little early this year – a move that could
potentially save the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars,”
Senate Appropriations Committee Co-Chairman Mike
Johnson, R-Kingfisher, said Senate Republicans succeeded in
their efforts to prioritize needs, hold the line on overall
spending, and produce a fiscally responsible budget.
“Senate Republicans grew frustrated watching
spending grow by double digits year-after-year. Now that Republicans
have equal numbers in the Senate, we’re proud to have
helped craft a fiscally responsible budget that meets critical
state needs while reducing overall spending,” stated Johnson.
“Sen. Crutchfield, Rep. Benge, and I put aside our political
differences and worked together to develop a common sense budget
Senate Finance Committee Co-Chairman Mike Mazzei,
R-Tulsa, said the tax relief provisions are critical to helping
grow Oklahoma’s economy.
“Reducing our income tax rate is the number
one economic development tool we have in the shed. Our agreement
to accelerate existing income tax cuts will help make Oklahoma
more competitive sooner. We have included a back-to-school sales
tax holiday to help parents make their dollars stretch farther.
Exempting many small businesses from the franchise tax makes
them more competitive in the marketplace,” Mazzei said.
Major details of the agreement include:
A tax relief package that includes a back-to-school
sales tax holiday, an acceleration of existing income tax cuts
by a year, the elimination of the franchise tax for small businesses
owing $250 or less (about 24,000 businesses), and a childcare
tax credit for stay-at-home parents.
A $6.8 billion budget for FY 2008 that shrinks
government by 3 percent. This budget is about $238 million less
than the total amount spending in the current fiscal year, and
represents the earliest budget agreement since 1972.
A $92 million supplemental funding package for
- Public schools will receive $60.3 million of this amount:
$20.5 million for flex benefits; $21 million for fixed payroll
costs associated with the $3,000 teacher pay raise; and $18.8
in reimbursements for ad valorem exemptions for businesses.
- The Department of Corrections will receive nearly
$10 million in supplemental funding. The Legislature will continue
to monitor the DoC budget to determine if additional supplemental
funding is necessary.
- The Regents for Higher Education will receive
$5.5 million in supplemental funding for OHLAP to help cover
the overestimation of lottery revenues.
Full funding for OHLAP. In addition to receiving
$5.5 million in supplemental this year, the Regents for Higher
Education will receive $11,000,000 to fund the growth in the
OHLAP scholarship program next year.
Funding for education reforms. The agreement meets
the Fund Education First deadline for the first time, and includes
$5.6 for ACE Initiative remediation programs, and $2,000,000
to fund additional Academic Achievement Awards.
Increased reimbursement rates for health care
providers. To help insure access to quality health, Medicaid
reimbursement rates will be increased to the Medicare rate for
physicians, anesthesiologists, and hospitals.
$10 million in one-time funds for the state’s
Civil Emergency Management Fund.
For more information contact:
Senator Coffee's Office: (405) 521-5654