By Rep. Rick West
The House this week passed the overall appropriations bill to fund government services for Fiscal Year 2022, which starts in July. I gave a broad overview of the budget last week, but I want to go back and give some additional details.
First, I want to talk about the money transportation will get. During the pandemic, the Legislature set aside some funding from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s ROADS Fund to be spent on other core functions of government if needed. We appropriate $17 Million more to transportation this year than last to restore that. We are making a $200 million investment in speeding up the department’s eight-year plan through the federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. The County Improvement for Roads and Bridges fund is also made whole with an increase of $20 million,
One great thing in this budget is the Department of Transportation has agreed to allow the Legislature to add an authorization section in the General Appropriation bill for the ROADS fund of $575 million. This is money that normally is apportioned off the top and therefore gets little scrutiny in how it’s spent. This gives us greater transparency.
This budget also includes tax cuts. Personal income tax gets cut by .25% for all taxpayers, allowing people to decide for themselves how best to spend their hard-earned money. Corporate income tax goes from 6% to 4%. This should be an incentive for businesses to locate in our state and bring more jobs, another way to boost the economy.
The Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) will receive an additional $15.5 million, up 17%. These grants go to rural communities to help with projects such as road repairs, equipment purchases, utility infrastructure and more. The dollars are much needed and much appreciated.
We’re also appropriating about $10 million to help the state with whatever comes along in the wake of the Supreme Court’s McGirt decision regarding the prosecution of crimes on tribal land.
At the same time, we save about $800,000 with this budget, bringing our state savings to about $1.3 billion. If we’ve learned anything in this state, it’s how important it is to have some savings during a downturn.
One thing I want to remind everyone is this $8.8 billion we will appropriate for Fiscal Year 22 is not all the money that comes into the state. If we looked at every single funding source, we probably take in about $26 billion. This includes licenses, fees and permits, which flow through to the agencies that use this money to conduct their business in serving the public. It includes interest and investment revenue and it includes federal money that gets spent administrating federal grants and programs, as well as other sources.
But of the amount we do appropriate, here’s a breakdown: 47.2% for education; 19.9% for health care; 9.6% for human services; 8.7% for transportation; 7.9% for public safety; 2.2% for judiciary; 2.2% for general government; 1.4% for natural resources; 0.7% for finance; and 0.2% for miscellaneous.
Remember to listen to me on KPRV Radio each Thursday morning during the legislative session. And if I can help you with anything, feel free to call my Capitol office at (405) 557-7413 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Rick West represents District 3 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes part of LeFlore County.