We’re entering into the third week of session with several hundred more bills to consider in committee.
My Senate Bill 189 creating the Performance Informed Budget and Transparency Act of 2015 was unanimously approved by the Appropriations Committee. Again, this bill will put into action a new budgeting process that Gov. Fallin, her Cabinet and the Office of Management and Enterprise Services have been laying the ground work for the last few years. It will allow the legislature to align appropriated dollars to state priorities and measurable outcomes. This is an effort to hold our state agencies more accountable for the millions of taxpayer dollars we give them each year. We can no longer afford, especially with the expected $611 million budget shortfall we’re going to be facing this year, to continue throwing money at our state agencies without them showing us efficient, cost-saving, successful programs that benefit the people of Oklahoma.
As part of the process, they created the website OKStateStat.ok.gov, which features 160 key, measurable objectives for state government. Once fully implemented, Oklahoma will become the first state in the nation to develop a comprehensive budgeting system that ties spending to measurable goals and outcomes.
The committee did strike the title and emergency clause on the bill, which will next be heard by the full Senate.
In other news, I learned from ODOT that a series of infrastructure improvements are planned to be implemented on Luther Road as part of the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges Program (CIRB) 5 Year Plan. The Department is completing the contract that will begin the engineering work as scheduled for 2015. Phase I will encompass Luther Road from US-62 (N.E. 23rd Street) and will extend north to Memorial Road with a goal of improving the road to a widened two lane facility to improve safety and traffic conditions in the area. Construction is not scheduled until 2019. Work will depend on funding consistency and continued availability for the CIRB Program and the future delivery of the 5 Year Plan. Any reduction in the CIRB revolving fund will have an impact on the future delivery of included projects.
In closing, the Senate had the special privilege of recognizing and honoring the families of Oklahoma’s Gold Star Medal recipients this week. The medal is awarded to soldiers posthumously for valor after September 11, 2001, and presented to their families. I introduced and presented the medal to the family of CPL Michael Thompson who served in the 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, Task Force 34, Oklahoma National Guard. He and six other brave souls died on September 17, 2008, when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter they were in went down in the vicinity of Tallil, Iraq. May their bravery and sacrifice never be forgotten.
To contact me at the Capitol, please write to Senator Ron Sharp, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 411A, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (405) 521-5539.