July 12, 2016

OBNDD finds savings despite 11 percent budget

Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control officials said they have managed to find savings despite an 11 percent reduction in funding for fiscal year 2017.               

Director John Scully told the OBN board Tuesday the savings will come from changes to their medication disposal program.               

Currently, the agency operates 177 drop boxes around the state.

“The way the program has been operated in past is agents go to these locations and dispose of the medications by bringing them to our Oklahoma City headquarters until enough medications are gathered to take it to Covanta,” Scully said.

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July 12, 2016

State Ag Board approves several legis. expenses

The State Board of Agriculture approved a number of FY2017 expenses Tuesday, some which were legislatively directed.               

Before voting on the purchases and contracts, Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese thought it important to differentiate for other board members between which expenses where which specifically as to avoid any potential controversy.               

“I just wanted to point all those [legislatively-directed expenditures] out because they have been criticized in the past, and if they were criticized [now] we wanted to what we were voting for,” Reese said.

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July 12, 2016

Carl Newton prepared to represent Hickman’s seat

Carl Newton, an optometrist, will be the new Republican House member representing House District 58, a seat now held by Speaker Jeff Hickman who is term-limited.               

Newton was a campaign manager for Hickman’s first campaign and said he would have been endorsed by Hickman if it were necessary. Newton won 63.13 percent of the vote in a four-way race to win the House District 58 seat, avoiding a runoff to claim the vacant seat.               

Newton has had his own practice for 32 years and feels he can slow down that part of his life to represent the people of House District 58, he said.

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July 12, 2016

Agencies must wait until next week

State agencies will have to wait until at least next week to see if they may recover some of the money lost to midyear budget cuts implemented during fiscal year 2016.               

“The year-end reconciliation process is underway and will last into next week. That process has to finish to finalize June collections and total FY2016 collections,” John Estus, Office of Management and Enterprise Services spokesman, said in an email. “Therefore, it will be next week when the amount of money that may be returned to agencies is known.”

               

The office typically releases its monthly General Revenue Fund report on the Tuesday following the second Monday of the month. The end of the year report, however, sometimes comes later.

 

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June 30, 2016

OHCA approves FY2017 budget work program

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority approved its fiscal year 2017 work program Thursday, noting an increase in funding but an increase in potential cash-flow considerations.               

Lawmakers appropriated $991.1 million to the agency, which provides Medicaid services in the state. That was an increase of 9.24 percent over the agency’s final state contribution after the implementation of cuts due to two revenue failures but only a little more than a 2.0 percent increase over its original FY2016 appropriation, Vickie Kersey, OHCA director of fiscal planning and procurement.               

Kersey noted the funding level is roughly $16 million short of the amount the agency requested.

 

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June 30, 2016

Regents approve tuition spike for state’s public

The State Regents for Higher Education voted Thursday in to accept tuition and fee increases put forth by the representatives of Oklahoma’s 25 public colleges and universities.               

On average, students will pay 8.4 percent more than they did for the most recent academic year. A breakdown of the increases included a $417.34 per year average increase and a $13.92 average per credit hour increase for full-time undergraduate resident students.

Of the 25 schools, the largest increase is 12.9 percent at Rose State College and the lowest will be 3.7 percent at Langston University. Undergrad tuition and mandatory fees will increase by 7.0 percent at both the University of Oklahoma (OU) and the Oklahoma State University (OSU), increasing costs for 30 credits hours by $565.50 at OU and $543 at OSU. Public regional universities and community colleges increased their in-state tuition and mandatory fees an average 8.6 percent.

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