Budget work

by Marcus McEntire

For Fiscal Year 2022, which starts in July, the Legislature will appropriate about $7.9 billion to various state agencies that provide core services such as education, health care, transportation, public safety, and much more.

Legislative budget leaders currently are working on the breakdown of those funds.

Education will get more than 50 percent of total appropriations as it does every year. Schools also are set to receive record amounts of relief funding from the federal government as part of its Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. We also will be spending about $164 million for the cost of Medicaid expansion, which Oklahoma voters approved last June. The House and Senate are discussing restoring funding borrowed from several off-the-top sources last year during the onset of the pandemic. We also anticipate saving a bit this year as we have the past few years. This proved prudent as it helped revenue remain stable during the pandemic.

The state will receive almost $2.2 billion in federal relief funding through the latest CARES Act. Some of that money came in the form $1,400 stimulus checks to Oklahoma taxpayers earning less than $75,000 and each of their qualifying dependents.

Almost $1.5 million will go toward elementary and secondary schools, and more than $400,000 to higher education. More than $614,000 is marked for childcare services and almost $5,000 for child-abuse prevention.

More than $49,000 will go toward low-income home energy assistance programs. Oklahoma now has $264 million available in federal rental assistance throughout the state to help pay off back rent owed by tenants facing eviction. An additional $25 million will become available to help people at risk of homelessness once the federal moratorium on evictions is lifted.

More than $8,400 will go toward congregate or home-delivered meals, and more than $15,000 to mental health block grants and $14,000 to substance abuse grants.

This is just a snapshot of where some of this federal funding will go, there are many other beneficiaries as well.

Legislative budget leaders will continue to work on the state budget over the next month or so, and we’ll have a balanced budget to present to the governor by the end of our session.

In the meantime, if I can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact me at marcus.mcentire@okhouse.gov or (405) 557-7327.