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Mazzei Minute: 06/07/24

The Legislature has decided how to spend $12.5 billion of your money in the Fiscal Year 2025. In collaboration with Gov. Kevin Stitt, legislators have wisely earmarked $1.5 billion of spending for one-time priority projects instead of overcommitting to recurring expenses.

I’m a little concerned that the recurring expense base has risen to $10.8 billion when it was only $7.7 billion during Stitt’s first negotiated budget in the 2019 legislative session. That’s a $3.1 billion increase in fixed expenses—an increase of 40%! It’s hard for legislators to resist spending increases when there is extra money in the good times.   

Fortunately, Gov. Stitt has emphasized over and over that it is critical to maintain a good reserve cash position. The state’s overall cash savings is still around $4 billion, which should be able to help core services weather the next economic downturn. 

A $20 million deposit to the Quick Action Closing Fund is a major win for job growth and is one of our best tools to chase high paying jobs. Also, $50 million was allocated for the Tulsa-area levee system. It is a big-time plus for the city, as the system is long overdue for a critical upgrade to protect against future floods. 

I am also pleased that the state is creating an $18 million grant program, partnering with local sheriffs to increase pay and hire more deputies. Law enforcement certainly needs help with manpower.  

Oklahomans will get a tax break soon with no more 4.5% sales tax for buying groceries, but we are disappointed that no tax reform occurred to unwind special interest tax deals that could help us move toward becoming a no-income tax state.

Education maintained its record funding, but legislators missed an opportunity to pour the necessary funds into an all-hands-on-deck Reading Sufficiency Campaign to bring our students up to proficiency in reading. When only 80% of 8th graders can read proficiently, we need to declare a state of emergency and pour millions of dollars into a super aggressive program to help kids get caught up.


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