The first half of the 57th Legislature has officially sine die, which I learned is Latin for “without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing.” Constitutionally, we must sine die by May 31, so we were able to finish a little early. I think we had a very productive session. We, along with the Senate, passed the fiscal year 2020 general appropriations bill, approving an $8.1 billion state budget. It has been sent to the Governor. Here are some of the highlights of the FY 2020 budget:
• $200 million in savings to help Oklahoma weather a financial crisis; Oklahoma’s total savings at the end of this year will be $1 billion.
• $157.9 million for common education:
• $1,220 teacher pay raise on average, second-consecutive year for a teacher pay raise.
• $5.5 million for the Reading Sufficiency Act.
• An additional $74.4 million for classroom funding for schools to hire additional teachers to lower class sizes, hire counselors or other support staff, or purchase classroom supplies.
• $18 million for the Career Tech system for pay raises and course additions.
• $28 million for higher education to bolster research programs and provide a professor pay raise.
• $7.5 million for concurrent enrollment
• $37.7 million for a state employee pay raise of up to $1,400, the second consecutive year for a state employee pay raise.
• $1.7 million for the creation of the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT).
• $16.4 million for digital transformation of state government services to enhance transparency and to improve customer service.
• $700,000 to hire more auditors for the State Auditor’s Office to conduct more audits of state agencies.
Criminal justice reforms
• $20.1 million to reform the funding of district attorney offices.
• $10 million for “Smart on Crime” programs through the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
• $1.5 million for the Women in Recovery diversion program.
• $1.7 million to expand drug courts options for nonviolent offenders.
• $62.8 million for the Graduate Medical Education program to support physician training.
• $105 million reallocation to increase provider rates for physicians, hospitals and nursing homes.
• $29 million saved to a new preservation fund to preserve Medicaid provider rates when the federal government’s 3-year rolling average results in a rate decline.
• $2 million to decrease Developmental Disability Services (DDSD) wait list.
• $8 million to increase DDSD provider reimbursement rates by 4 percent.
• $4.6 million to increase immunizations and staff county health departments throughout the state.
• $500,000 to fund a public-private partnership to maintain clean water in Northeast Oklahoma and areas with high poultry density.
• $1.1 million for wildfire mitigation and additional resources for rural firefighters.
• $1.5 million to improve rural flood control dams.
Obviously, we still have work to do. We must continue to find solutions to solve our problems in health care, criminal justice reform and also give those that worked tirelessly as workers for the state of Oklahoma a COLA. As the interim goes along, legislators will be doing “interim studies” on those issues and others to find the solutions that best fit our state!
This first has been a great experience. I am truly honored to serve District 25. I hope to attend as many community events as possible and visit with constituents that would like to discuss legislative issues. Please continue to pray for those in our state who are being affected by the flooding. I can tell you the representatives from those districts are doing all they can to help those affected. It has been inspiring to see their hard work.
Please feel free to contact my office at 405-557-7336, or by email at email@example.com.
Thank you, District 25, for giving me the opportunity to serve you!