Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tough Session Ahead for State Legislators

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tough Session Ahead for State Legislators

Article excerpt

Lawmakers return to the State Capitol in joint session today for an election-year session in which they face thorny issues.

Major issues range from an income tax cut to additional regulation of corporate hog farms, and from modification of last year's hot- button measure, truth in sentencing, to exemption of food from the sales tax, expansion of health care for low-income families and a possible state employee pay hike, among others.

Gov. Frank Keating is scheduled to deliver his annual State of the State measure in the House Chamber at 1 p.m. today. There were indications last week that any issues either requiring substantial new funding or reducing revenues significantly may face a tougher than normal battle. Although the State Equalization Board recently certified roughly $161 million in growth revenue for distribution this session, over the past several weeks oil prices have fallen from the $19-per- barrel price which the board used to estimate general fund revenues from the gross production tax. Petroleum prices now hover around the $14 mark, and each $1-per-barrel drop in oil prices costs the state about $4.7 million in general fund monies. Coupled with the tighter funding picture is the fact that current obligations, supplemental funding requests, various pay-hike proposals and agency requests for additional funding for the fiscal year beginning July 1 exceed available new revenue by about $600 million -- which may impact not only supporters' hopes for new or expanded programs, but also may affect the chances for approval of a capital bond issue this year. In members' spare time, while they are wrangling over these issues, they will be racing through consideration of 1,187 House measures and 687 Senate bills and joint resolutions. These numbers exceed totals of the last comparable year, 1996, when House members introduced 1,041 measures, senators 660. In 1997, the first year of the 46th Oklahoma Legislature, members introduced 1,257 House measures and 776 Senate measures. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.