Oklahoma House to take up $7.1 billion state budget

Special Senate and House of Representatives budget committees pass a measure containing the proposed Oklahoma state budget. If it wins House approval Thursday, the bill will be taken up early next week by the Senate.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: May 9, 2013
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Oklahoma agency heads should consider tapping revolving funds and other available funds to provide pay increases for state workers, the chairman of a legislative budget committee said Wednesday.

“Agencies that have money, they don't have to come to us to give their employees raises,” said Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman. “They can do that. I would encourage those that have the ability and the flexibility to do that without harming their operations to consider their employees.”

The $7.1 billion legislatively appropriated budget for the upcoming fiscal year does not have an across-the-board pay increase for Oklahoma's approximately 34,000 state employees, including correctional officers and state troopers.

Special budget committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate each passed House Bill 2301. The House is expected to take up the bill Thursday afternoon. If approved, it could be taken up by the Senate early next week and sent on to the governor by the end of the week.

The House budget committee voted 18-8 to pass HB 2301, with Democrats and one Republican, Rep. Sally Kern, voting against.

Kern, R-Oklahoma City, said priorities are “out of whack” because the budget called for $5 million to renovate legislative space and offices in the state Capitol but didn't contain raises for state troopers or correctional officers.

“My concern is troopers, public safety is a core function of government and I think that should have a higher priority,” she said.