House Democrats seek increase
in funding for public schools
All 29 House Democrats and one Republican House member have joined three Senate committee chairmen who have written a letter to Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders asking to increase funding for public schools by $75 million to $100 million for the 2014 fiscal year, which starts July 1. House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, said that lawmakers signing the letter agree that Oklahoma's public schools should be the top priority this session. Rep. Arthur Hulbert, a freshman legislator from Fort Gibson, was the only Republican to sign the House letter. Last month Sens. Jim Halligan, R-Stillwater, chairman of a Senate education subcommittee, John Ford, R-Bartlesville, chairman of the Senate Education Committee and Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, wrote to Fallin and legislative leaders after meeting with local school superintendents and state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi that they are convinced increased education funding must be the top priority when writing the 2014 fiscal year budget.
State treasurer starts online checkbook website for spending
State Treasurer Ken Miller has launched a website that provides a quick and easy way to examine state government's spending. The Oklahoma Treasury Online Checkbook may be found by clicking on the online checkbook graphic on the treasurer's office's homepage, www.treasurer.ok.gov. Information can be found on expenditures and collections by function of government or by agency. Payments to businesses and state employees are included and can be viewed collectively or searched by individual. Deposits include total receipts by day and by agency, but do not disclose the names of taxpayers. The online checkbook contains almost 6 million expenditures made since July 2007 and about 200,000 entries of revenue collections since April 2010.
Retiring transportation official to be honored at celebration
A retirement celebration for longtime transportation official Gary Ridley is set for 6 p.m. Monday at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford. Ridley is retiring March 31 as the director of the state Transportation Department and director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. Ridley, who worked for the Transportation Department for 44 years, will continue to serve on Gov. Mary Fallin's Cabinet as secretary of transportation. The banquet will be held in the Memorial Student Center Ballroom. For tickets, call (580) 774-3766 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are $17 per person to cover the cost of the meal. Tim Stewart, deputy director and chief operating officer of the Turnpike Authority, was named last week to head that agency. The Oklahoma Transportation Commission is expected to name a new director for the Transportation Department at its meeting Monday.
MICHAEL MCNUTT, CAPITOL BUREAU