Oklahoma Senate passes Fiscal Year 2022 state budget; Governor Stitt signs measure

Staff Report 
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Senate last week passed the appropriations bill to fully fund state government services for Fiscal Year 2022, which starts July 1.

“This is a tremendous budget for the state of Oklahoma that prioritizes and makes increased investments in education, provides tax relief for families and small businesses, and yet still maintains to keep more than $800 million in savings,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City. 

“A year ago, the state faced a $1.3 billion shortfall and there was great economic uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, this budget will help ensure the state can advance and thrive as we continue to emerge from the pandemic. It’s a huge accomplishment and I want to thank Senator Roger Thompson, Senator Chuck Hall, and Senate staff for their leadership and hard work.”

The Fiscal Year 2022 budget appropriates $8.8 billion.

“I’m very excited about this budget and what it does for the citizens of Oklahoma. I believe the behavioral health center for children at OU is going to be life-changing for countless families in our state,” said Thompson, R-Okemah, and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in a press release sent to The City Sentinel newspaper, CapitolBeatOK.com and other news organizations. 
“This is a positive budget that moves our state forward.”

House Bill 2900 passed on a 38-9 vote and went to the governor, who has signed the budget measure approved in both chambers of the Legislature. 

“This has been my first year to serve as vice chair of Appropriations. Having seen how this process works and how the budget comes together, I could not be more proud of the tireless efforts of Chairman Thompson who has worked the entire year, along with our subcommittee chairs, to develop a budget that will meet the needs of the citizens of Oklahoma,” said Senator Hall, a Republican from Perry.

In addition to the budget, the Senate adopted measures on Thursday lowering the tax burden on families and businesses. The FY’22 budget agreement highlights include:

* Common education funding increased more than $210 million, and received an appropriation of $3.16 billion.

* Provides $50 million in caps on the Equal Opportunity Scholarship program, $25 million for public schools and $25 million for private schools. 

* Provides tax relief for families and business.

* Reduces the top personal income tax rate from 5 percent to 4.75 percent.

* Reduces the corporate income tax rate from 6 percent to 4 percent.

* $30 million for a film tax incentive to spur more projects and investment.

* Expansion of broadband service in underserved and unserved areas statewide through a $42 million tax incentive for providers.

* Aggressively recruits jobs with more than $35 million in new economic development funding.

* Restores the Earned Income Tax Credit refundability, supporting low- and moderate-income working families.

* $164 million to fund Medicaid expansion approved by a vote of the people.

* Restores historic sales tax credit for OU Health, allowing them to train a significant number of additional nurses and medical doctors.

* $9.9 million for the creation of a children’s mental health unit at OU Health.
Additional funding for the Attorney General’s Office to push back against federal overreach and represent the state in legal challenges associated with the McGirt case.

* $15.4 million for Rural Economic Action Plan that makes grants for infrastructure projects in rural Oklahoma.

* Restores funding to various state pension funds used last year to mitigate the impact of pandemic-related budget reductions.