July 6, 2015

Fallin recently directed the Board of Corrections

Gov. Mary Fallin recently directed the Board of Corrections to consider changes to its policy regarding the ability of inmates sentenced to serve at least 85 percent to earn credits that reduce the length of their total sentences.

“I hereby direct the State Board of Corrections to immediately amend its earned credit policy to more accurately reflect the plain language of the statues of Oklahoma,” Fallin wrote in a Gubernatorial Memorandum 20015-01. The memorandum was filed Wednesday with the Secretary of State’s Office.

What this basically says is, ‘Here’s what we believe the law is. We would like to you to follow the law,’” said Steve Mullins, Fallin’s general counsel. “An executive memorandum is not ordering them to change their policy. It’s saying, ‘Here’s what the law is. Please review your policy.’”

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July 6, 2015

State legislator defended a deal Monday

A state legislator defended a deal Monday between Gov. Mary Fallin and a local water district that other lawmakers have labeled a “back door” deal.

Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, said he disagreed with statements made last week in a news release by Rep. Jerry McPeak, D-Warner, on the deal. McPeak indicated that the agreement, which allows the transfer of water pumped on Department of Corrections land near a Lexington correctional facility to the Cleveland County Rural Water District, set a bad precedent for the legislative process and that the water pumped by the facility should have been so at a profit for the Department.

McPeak was also the most vocal opponent to Cleveland’s HB1116 last session, which sought a legislative solution to the water shortage problem Cleveland said plagues his constituents in the Lexington area.
 

 

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July 6, 2015

Transportation Commission voted Monday to increase

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation Commission voted Monday to increase Executive Director Mike Patterson’s current $139,000 salary by $17,128 despite a 6.25 percent, or $12.3 million, cut to the agency’s 2016 fiscal year state appropriation. Deputy Director Tim Gatz said during an interview the salary increase and budget decrease will likely come out of the operational and personnel budget, resulting in cuts to equipment and travel expenses. 

Gatz said the department does not anticipate layoffs and will hold the maintenance budget harmless to the best of their ability.

“Our employees are the most important part of our daily business,” said Gatz. “We have to have and maintain a level of full time equivalent employees to maintain safe operations, so we don’t anticipate that we would go through any type of layoff. That would be something that we would resist to the last.”
 

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June 26, 2015

Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) Executive Director Terri White said individuals currently receiving services will not lose those services over the next fiscal year. The board unanimously approved the 2016 fiscal year budget at Friday’s meeting.

ODMHSAS is one of only eight state agencies that received an increase in state appropriations for the 2016 fiscal year in comparison to FY2015, from $338.6 million to $340.6 million, or a 0.6 percent increase.

Due to some unexpected federal funds and a few other changes, White said the agency will not cut services to those individuals who currently receive them.
 

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June 26, 2015

A new law going into effect July 1 will allow

A new law going into effect July 1 will allow counties to more fully negotiate spending on road and bridge projects that extend across county lines.

Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, gave an example of a project on Waterloo Road between Oklahoma County and Logan County, a road that is “very important” to both counties. Oklahoma County, Grau said, has more than 15 times the population of Logan County, with much more money in its coffers.

In the past, funding for a project between the counties would have had to be split 50-50. “Well, that doesn’t work out so well when Oklahoma County says, ‘OK, we need to make this four-lane asphalt’ and Logan County, under the law, would be forced to pay exactly half of that,” Grau said.

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June 25, 2015

Board of Education unanimously approved the 2016 f

The State Board of Education unanimously approved the 2016 fiscal year budget for the State Department of Education, one of few state agencies held harmless in 2016 fiscal year state appropriations, at Thursday’s meeting.

The amounts detailed in the FY2016 budget are for the financial support of public schools, textbooks and instructional materials, Flexible Benefit Allowance (FBA), the support of public school activities and the administrative and support functions.

The FY2015 and FY2016 state appropriation of $2.48 billion had only one major shift in funds of $8.7 million from the support of public school activities to the FBA, a state paid statutory benefit for covering the cost of health insurance over a 12-month period.

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