OKLAHOMA CITY —
Shannon’s selection to head the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Scott Martin of Norman, said he plans to propose another one-quarter of 1 percent cut to the income tax rate, which would drop the rate to 5 percent. Such a cut would cost the state an estimated $125 million annually, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
Based on preliminary projections, legislators this year will have about $7 billion to spread among various agencies beginning July 1 — about $170 million more than last year. The agencies have submitted budget requests seeking $1.4 billion more.
Republican leaders all have said that increased funding for common education will be a priority next year, but it’s doubtful State Superintendent Janet Barresi will get all the money she has requested. During a budget hearing last week, Barresi asked for $40 million in additional funding just to finish the current fiscal year and another $289 million increase in her budget for next year.
Lawmakers have said a priority will be to fund some of the GOP-backed education mandates approved in recent years, including a new A-F grading system for public schools and requirements that students demonstrate reading proficiency before advancing to third grade.
Fallin also has said she plans to propose $16 million in new funding for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and a $40 million boost in revenue to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to cover an anticipated increase in the number of enrollees in the state’s Medicaid program.
Fallin also has called on legislators to come up with a way to fund needed repairs to the crumbling Capitol building, but Shannon said last week he’s doubtful there is support in the House for a bond issue to fund any infrastructure improvements. Shannon said he will sponsor a bill for a multi-year infrastructure improvement plan for state assets.