Legislative Update With Oklahoma Senator Bill Coleman

Ponca City Now - January 26, 2023 6:52 am

Oklahoma Senator Bill Coleman R-Ponca City District 10

It appears I forgot to share my column from the first week of this month, but I had some important revenue and budget updates that I don’t want you to miss —
Our state’s economy has outpaced many others around the nation in recent years, setting historic records for gross receipts and General Revenue Fund (GRF) collections. While gross receipts include all revenues remitted to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, our focus is on the GRF collections as these are what are available for appropriation by the Legislature after rebates, refunds, mandatory apportionments, and the various taxes are remitted back to the municipalities. Total GRF collections for the first five months of the current fiscal year were $3.5 billion, nearly $500 million or 17% above FY’22 collections.
As Oklahomans, though, we know all too well how cyclical the economy is and how quickly it can fall. For this reason, even though we’ve had the opportunity to spend record levels of revenue in the last few years, we chose to be fiscally conservative and save rather than spend every dollar available to us for appropriation. We’ve now boosted our state savings to more than $3 billion to help protect our state agencies and services from any future disasters or downturns.
According to the State Board of Equalization’s initial revenue estimate, the Legislature will have around $13 billion to appropriate this session. Governor Stitt’s executive budget will reflect these numbers and he will share his ideas of how to utilize these funds in his State of the State Address on the first day of session, which is Feb. 6. A lot can happen economically between now and then, so the BOE will meet again later in February to officially certify revenues for use by the Legislature. It is that amount that we’ll use to craft the state budget.
Nearly 1,700 Senate bills were requested last month, and with the bill filing deadline less than two weeks away on Jan. 19, staff has been extremely busy researching and drafting legislation. As of Thursday, around 200 bills had been filed, touching on issues like healthcare, firearms, education, school and public safety, medical marijuana, and a host of others.
Besides working on legislation in recent weeks with various state agencies, organizations, and constituents, I’ve attended several meetings of the Tax Reform Working Group as we continue studying ways to modernize our state’s tax structure to help Oklahoma families and businesses while strengthening our economy. Our Jim Thorpe Building Repair Oversight Committee has also been meeting to decide how best to move forward with renovations to this historic state building. This building is mostly home to the Corporation Commission and the Arts Council. On Tuesday, we held our constitutionally mandated organizational day to formally elect Senate leadership and approve the rules for the 59th Legislature.
Now that I’m a member, I’ll be attending the Governor’s Council on Workforce and Economic Development meeting on Jan. 27. The Governor’s Council is the State Workforce Development Board under the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). This council includes business, government, education, and nonprofit leaders who are developing creative solutions to coordinate workforce development, including education, with economic development, expanding and improving our state’s workforce, providing better jobs for workers and a more skilled workforce for business and industry. You can learn more at https://oklahomaworks.gov/stateworkforceboard/.
On Monday, I’ll attend Governor Stitt’s inauguration ceremony, which will also include swearing in ceremonies for other statewide elected officials, including former Sen. Kim David, who won a seat on the Corporation Commission.
On Wednesday, our OMES/ARPA Oversight Committee will hold its first budget hearing with our largest state agency and begin reviewing how agencies are moving forward with the Legislature’s approved plans and programs for the ARPA federal funding.
Our caucus continues meeting regularly as we prepare for the upcoming session and work to craft our legislative agenda. This will be announced sometime next month after session gets underway.
 

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