Oklahoma State Senate
President Pro Tempore
Senator Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa
State Capitol Room 422
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
(405) 521-5565

For Immediate Release: March 7, 2011

Sen. Brian Bingman
Sen. Brian Bingman

First Joint Committee on Appropriations Bill Passes Senate; Marks the Beginning of a New Era of Transparency

Leaders Agree to Use Existing Resources for Department of Corrections Funding

Senate Bill 970 passed the full Senate today, a bill from the newly created Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget. The committee was created upon the enactment of joint rules within the legislature, something Oklahoma has not had since 1999.

The funding agreement will not affect next year’s budget. Senate Bill 970 will allow the Department of Corrections to use up to an additional $4 million from within the Correctional Industries’ fund to reduce planned furlough days of corrections officers. The DOC is currently authorized to access $1.25 million.

Legislative leaders expressed their support for the bill today, which was approved as an emergency by a vote of 37-7 in the Senate.

“Transparency and fiscal accountability make good government. Our Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget not only worked openly and transparently, but they were able to agree on legislation that puts public safety first using existing resources that will not deepen our budget hole next year. This bill is a victory for the taxpayer,” said President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa.

“The legislation passed today keeps public safety a priority and provides greater flexibility for the Department of Corrections to effectively utilize existing dollars in the most efficient manner. I commend the joint committee on appropriations for addressing this important issue. This solution will enable DOC to maintain current correction’s employee work schedules for the remainder of the fiscal year,” said House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee.

The Pro Tem and Speaker agree that the joint committee will result in more openness throughout the budget making process. Major reforms include:

• Joint Committee meetings will be open to the public

• Votes on legislation will take place in public

• Bills will be scrutinized within the committee, eliminating the opportunity for last minute changes to legislation without oversight

• Bills approved out of committee will be placed on a joint budget calendar and distributed to all members of the legislature on a legislative day prior to being considered on the floor

For more information contact:
Sen. Bingman: (405) 521-5605

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