State budget issues dominate in May

The legislature is required by law to complete its work and finalize the budget to adjourn sine die no later than 5 p.m. on the last Friday in May.  With that date just a little more than a week away, we have been working diligently to meet this deadline on time and agree on a budget before we return home to our districts for the interim.

There have been several proposals discussed to help fill the enormous budget shortfall, and although much of what is on the news seems to be overwhelmingly negative, there is also some good news to report as well.  The Senate has sent the governor several measures generating millions in new revenue in recent weeks.

Some of those measures include House Bill 2348, which decouples state tax returns deductions from federal deductions.  This move will raise about $4 million now, and will help us avoid millions in an anticipated shortfall in the event the federal tax code changes in the future.

HB 2361 adds a pro-sports ticket fee, which would generate an additional $2.6 million.   HB 2357 increases the reinstatement fee for non-payment of franchise taxes, creating an additional $775,000 and HB 2358 sunsets the eligible purchases discount within the motor fuel tax structure.   The Senate also generated more than $250 million in revenues through apportionment reforms.

These measures are all in addition to the $17 million generated from HB 2343, which increases compliance with state sales tax law and HB 2344, which generates $1 million by lowering the cap on the state film tax credit.  Each of these measures reflects evidence of our commitment to reforms that provide new revenue to shore up this year’s $900 million shortfall and provide long term sustainability for the state budget.

It was a pleasure to carry the executive nomination this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee of Thomas Gillert of Tulsa.  Gillert has been nominated to serve on the Oklahoma State Council for Interstate Adult Offender Supervision for a three year term, ending June 30, 2020. I also carried the nomination of Phillip J. Kirk of Tulsa to the Horse Racing Commission to serve a six-year term ending June 30, 2023.  It was an honor to be recently appointed by Senate President Pro Tem, Mike Schulz, to serve as a full council member on The Energy Council.  The Energy Council is a nonprofit organization that promotes a balanced national energy strategy and related environmental policies.  The Council also strives to promote an understanding of energy and its impact on the global economy, as well assist legislators in policymaking in their own states.

I always welcome your questions and concerns.   Please feel free to contact me at the state Capitol by calling 405-521-5620 or by email at rader@oksenate.gov.