OKLAHOMA CITY- A measure that would allow Oklahoman's to vote on a Constitutional amendment to convert the Legislature to a budget-only session every two years passed out of a House committee on Thursday (April 9).
Senate Joint Resolution 30, by state Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, and Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, would put to a vote of the people a state constitutional amendment that, if approved, would permit the Legislature to consider appropriation measures every year. However, it would restrict the Legislature to considering substantive measures in odd-numbered years only. If approved, the Legislature, during even-numbered years, could only consider appropriations bills.
"It is time for meaningful legislative reform in Oklahoma," Grau said. "Our proposal ensures a better, more thorough and transparent budgeting process, while reducing the number of new laws passed every year. Citizens across the state are ready for us to change the way we do business at the Capitol."
Grau said that currently, 25 states have similar processes in place. He also noted that four states only meet every other year, 15 states meet every year but do a biennial budget and six other states have some sort of modified system for the consideration of budgets and/or substantive legislation.
Grau's proposal gained popularity during the 2014 election cycle, eventually drawing the support of both incumbent Gov. Mary Fallin, the Republican, and her Democratic challenger, former state Rep. Joe Dorman of Rush Springs.
"The time has come for meaningful reform that will enable the Legislature to examine our expenditures from top to bottom," said Bingman. "Moving to budget-only sessions will place greater focus on state spending than ever before, and give us more time to thoughtfully consider the laws we do pass. This reform would finally give us the time and opportunity to have meaningful debates about what should matter most -- how we choose to allocate the tax dollars of Oklahomans."
S.J.R. 30 passed out of the House Rules Committee by a vote of 8-2 and now heads to the House floor for consideration.
NOTE: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.