Lawmakers want fiscal flexibility

Two lawmakers say the state needs greater flexibility to navigate the current negative revenue outlook in order to prevent reductions and protect core government services.

State Rep. Leslie Osborn and state Sen. Greg Treat said the plan would outline the steps and clarify how the process would work to divest the GRDA should the Legislature choose to do so. The legislators said it is important that a plan be in place during the tough economic times the state has encountered.

“This is not necessarily a bill to sell the GRDA,” said Osborn, R-Mustang, and chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. “But during tough budget times, we need to have a plan in place should the need arise. We have several assets that are not a core function of state government. The GRDA could be worth more than a billion dollars, and it would be imprudent for the Legislature to not consider creative ways to raise money to fund core services. This legislation does not mandate a sale; it enables the state to sell the asset if it was decided it was in the best interest of the state and its citizens.”

“The bill creates a process for evaluating the merits of selling the GRDA and could serve as a roadmap for selling other state assets in a responsible manner,” said Treat, R-Edmond. “Let’s keep in mind, we are simply removing barriers that stand in the way of giving consideration and exploring divestment of non-core assets – in this case the GRDA. I’m excited to work with Chairman Osborn in trying to focus our efforts to create a method to shed non-core functions of government.”

Osborn said the plan would be similar to an energy corporation selling non-core assets to raise cash and strengthen their balance sheets during a time of protracted low commodity prices.

“Oklahomans sent us here to solve problems and make government more efficient and accountable,” said Osborn. “We would be shirking our responsibilities to the citizens of Oklahoma if we refused to consider the sale of a non-core asset.”