2015 Senate Summation – week 1
Session begins, Fallin delivers State of the State address
- The Senate filed a total of 814 bills and 32 joint resolutions.
- The Senate just finished the first of its four weeks of committee work.
- As expected, committee work was light in the first week of session, and will pick up considerably in the coming weeks.
Highlights from Governor Fallin’s speech:
- The governor outlined three particular areas she believes Oklahoma must improve to further our economic momentum: educational attainment, incarceration rates, and health.
- Fallin mentioned partnerships between local businesses and local schools could be a way to help students develop important work skills. She singled out “Mid-America Delivers”, a collaborative effort between the Mid-America Industrial Park in Pryor, and Mayes County schools.
- Fallin then turned to the issues of crime and incarceration. “Oklahoma must ramp up its ‘smart on crime’ policies, including the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, designed to intervene for low-risk, non-violent offenders and more readily offer alternatives such as drug courts and mental health courts.”
- The governor noted she has already convened a steering committee to implement her policies.
- “It costs the state around $19,000 a year to house an inmate, but only $5,000 a year to send an addict through drug court and on to treatment. In addition to being less expensive, it’s also more effective, the recidivism rate for offenders sent to drug court is just one-fourth of the rate for those sent to prison.”
- The governor then addressed our state’s health challenges.
- Fallin referenced her support for several health-related reforms: a prescription drug monitoring bill to address the issue of “doctor shopping”; making K-12 schools smoke free spaces; banning texting while driving; and pushing for the federal government to renew approval of Oklahoma’s health plan for small businesses and lower income workers – Insure Oklahoma.
Governor’s Proposed Executive Budget
- The governor also unveiled her proposed executive budget on Monday.
- The governor’s proposal would provide a 6.25 percent appropriations decrease for most state agencies. 55 state agencies would see their appropriations decrease by 6.25 percent, which would free up $37 million for other needs.
- Her proposal would provide five targeted appropriations increases: State Department of Education – $25 million; Oklahoma Health Care Authority – $25 million; Department of Human Services – $16 million; Department of Corrections – $15 million; and Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services – $5 million.
- The governor proposes a flat budget for ten state agencies: State Regents for Higher Education; Career Tech; ODOT; Health Department; Office of Juvenile Affairs; Pardon and Parole Board; Department of Public Safety; Medical Examiner; Commissioners of the Land Office; and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- The governor is proposing that $300 million from agency revolving funds be appropriated elsewhere.