House, Senate Approve Bills for Appropriations

Article excerpt

Both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature Wednesday approved comprehensive bills designed to serve as the framework for the appropriations process.

The House of Representatives measure would cut funding to state agencies by $35 million.

Rep. James Hamilton, D-Poteau and chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, said House Bill 1716 is part of a four-bill appropriations package that his committee plans to submit to Gov. Frank Keating within the next five days.

The other three bills will clarify spending cuts to several state agencies, including the Office of State Finance and the Secretary of State, Hamilton said.

"We have tried to mirror the governor's cuts."

Keating's budget request calls for a 2.5 percent cut to most state agencies, a slash in spending for the state's five-year data processing plan and targeted cuts for welfare and to the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology.

The House-Senate conference committee that wrote the bill made two substantial changes to Keating's proposed cuts, Hamilton said.

The committee is proposing only half of Keating's $500,000 targeted cut for OCAST. The center provides grants for health and applied science research.

The committee also left University Hospitals Authority at a standstill budget.

Hamilton said the committee "felt (University Hospitals) is part of the higher education family" which Keating has exempted from the 2.5 percent cut.

The bill proposes $26.57 million to the hospitals' authority, up by $100,000 from the current year's appropriation of $26.47 million. Keating had proposed the authority receive $22. …