Oklahoma Senate Republicans Release Legislative Agenda, Temper Budget Expectations

Jan 29, 2019

Led by Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, the Oklahoma Senate Republican caucus unveiled Tuesday its 2019 legislative agenda.
Credit Oklahoma Senate

Oklahoma Senate Republicans released Tuesday a four-point legislative agenda for 2019.

They intend to establish a legislative budget office, give the governor more authority to hire and fire agency heads, protect $2.9 billion in education funding appropriated last year, and continue the criminal justice reform process.

"The theme of the session, in large part, is restoring trust — restoring trust with the public, that they can have confidence in the legislative process, restoring trust with the governor’s office and our counterparts in the House," said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat.

Restoring five-day school weeks is included on the GOP legislative agenda. Majority Floor Leader Kim David said four-day school weeks have hurt the state’s reputation, but some districts may get to keep them.

"If there are schools that want to be able to come up and talk to us about they can still save money working on that four-day school week, they’re still showing high student achievements, then we also want to be able to give exemptions where we can," David said.

Senate Republican leaders also gave a budget update. The State Board of Equalization estimated last month lawmakers will have $612 million in additional revenue for fiscal year 2020.

Senate Appropriations Chair Roger Thompson said depending on oil prices and other factors, he expects the final certification next month will show only $250 million or so in new money.

"That’s it. It’s not the $612 [million]. I think whenever you minus off some of the ad valorem reimbursement, some of the other things that we need to pay, we may be looking at between $150 million and $200 million more than we had last year," Thompson said.

Lawmakers have received requests for $3.5 billion in new funding so far. Leaders have said education is the top priority.

The legislature convenes next week.