After months of work and lengthy conversations, legislative leaders and the Governor held a joint press conference to announce a budget agreement for Fiscal Year 2022 on Thursday.
We heard directly from constituents what they wanted to see in this new budget, and I believe our proposal delivers. At a time when many states are facing billion dollar budget deficits, I’m very pleased that Oklahoma is blessed with quite the opposite.
This budget serves the people of Oklahoma well by providing tax relief for individuals and businesses while also adding new investments into our key priorities like education, economic development, infrastructure and health care. Core services that provide essential services for Oklahomans are maintained as well under this budget.
The budget was built on the Board of Equalization’s certification of $9.6 billion in revenue available for appropriations that we received in February. Of that figure, the proposed budget utilizes $8.3 billion. The rest is allocated to tax relief, replenishing savings or replenishing off-the-top funding temporarily redirected during the pandemic last session.
I wanted to highlight a few areas I thought would be especially noteworthy to my constituents of House District 51. This budget:
Increases common education funding by 6% to a record high of $3.2 billion, which is an approximately $210 million increase. This additional funding will help reduce class sizes and will be the largest education budget in state history. On another note: with the passing of this budget, the annual common education budget will have increased by $776 million or 25% since I was elected in March of 2018. Public schools are the backbone of the communities of House District 51, and I will always support our kids and do whatever I can to help improve their educational outcomes as well as ensure we support the teachers in the classroom who are key to achieving these outcomes.
Expands broadband in rural areas of the state that are underserved or not served at all, thanks to a $42 million tax incentive for broadband providers. This will be very helpful for rural districts such as HD51 that has many rural areas in need of affordable high-speed internet service.
Provides $35 million toward new economic development funding to aggressively recruit more jobs to Oklahoma and grow our economy.
Puts Oklahoma in the Top Ten nationwide for lowest tax rates by reducing personal income from 5% to 4.75% and corporate income from 6% to 4%.
Restores a historic sales tax credit allowing OU Health to train an additional 160 nursing graduates and nurse practitioners every year and 70 additional medical residents within three years.
Invests $186.9 million, a 9.9% increase, in the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for improvements to roads and bridges.
Boosts our state’s reserves from less than $300 million today to more than $1 billion, nearly back to our amount prior to the pandemic. These reserves are very important to the long-term stability of our future state budgets since our state is very dependent on the commodity price of oil and gas that is cyclical.
The general appropriations bill is filed as House Bill 2900, and it will now begin moving through the legislative process. After passing the Joint Appropriations and Budget Committee, which consists of members of both the House and Senate subcommittees, the bill will be eligible to be considered in the full House and Senate. Once it has passed both chambers, it moves to the Governor’s desk for his consideration.
The constitutional deadline for adjournment of the legislative session is 5 p.m. Friday, May 28. With the budget we have drafted, I am confident that the people of Oklahoma will be pleased and we will complete our legislative work without going past the deadline.
Please continue to reach out to my office with questions or concerns about legislation or the budget proposal.