Happy New Year to everyone here in Senate District 20. With the new year comes a new legislative session. We’ll convene here at the Capitol on Monday, February 3rd.
With just about a month left between now and then, legislators and staff are hard at work preparing for the 2020 session. January 16th marks the deadline for filing legislation to be heard in the upcoming session. That deadline, for the most part, applies primarily to bills dealing with public policy. Those dealing with the budget can be filed later in the session.
We recently got our first official look at what kind of figures we’ll be working with for the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, which begins on July 1, 2020. We already knew the national and state economies had slowed this past year—Oklahoma has certainly been feeling the impact of lower than projected oil and gas prices. Now we have a better idea of how that will affect the state’s budget.
Just before the Christmas holidays, the State Board of Equalization made its initial certification of how much money will be available for the Legislature to appropriate. The Board of Equalization certified more than $8.3 billion for FY ’21, which represents an increase of nearly $9.4 million, or 0.1 percent. For all practical purposes, this represents what basically will be a flat budget.
It is important to keep in mind that we already have some $200 million in obligations, including ad valorem reimbursements to schools, the bond debt on the Capitol and higher costs for teacher health care benefits. The good news is, we are continuing to look at ways to identify efficiencies throughout state government, eliminate waste and duplication and ensure we’re getting the biggest bang for every single dollar we appropriate.
The Equalization Board will meet again in February to examine the latest data and make any necessary changes to the certification numbers.
I also want to remind you that you can view or download copies of legislation, committee and floor agendas or other information. You can also view live, streaming video from all committee meetings and floor sessions through our official website at www.oksenate.gov. It’s a great way to stay informed on the issues you may be interested in following during the session—and as always, I’ll keep you updated on the latest news right here.
Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to be your voice in the Oklahoma Senate. Please feel free to contact my Capitol office with any questions or concerns you may have about legislation or other issues impacting our state at 405.521.5628 or at email@example.com.