Sen. Frank Simpson’s Session Review

The Daily Ardmoreite
Sen. Frank Simpson

We’ve completed our constitutional work of redrawing Oklahoma’s legislative and congressional districts based on the final U.S. Census Bureau population counts that were released in August. This was a long, in-depth process that involved 30 in-person and virtual townhall meetings, so legislators could educate citizens about this important process as well as hear people’s ideas and concerns. Citizens were also encouraged to submit their own map proposals for consideration.

            Oklahoma is growing, but not uniformly, which is why redistricting is so critical. Constitutionally, each district must contain roughly the same number of people. Overall, our state grew by 5% or 200,000 people. Following the 2010 Census, each Senate district had just over 78,000 citizens but based on the 2020 results, each district will now represent nearly 83,000.

            Senate District 14 will see some major changes as it shifts east, picking up Coal and Marshall Counties as well as more area in Johnston County east of Tishomingo. Love County and Sulphur will be moving to SD31. Carter County, Davis and Tishomingo will remain in SD14.

            Now that we’ve wrapped up redistricting, our focus turns to the upcoming session. This week was the deadline to have our bill requests submitted. We’ll work with Senate staff over the next month researching and fine-tuning those requests, as well as deciding which ones we want to file.

            Besides passing new laws each session, we also must approve the annual budget. Oklahoma’s economic future looks bright. State revenues have been steadily increasing and were record-setting last month, coming in at nearly $1.2 billion, or almost 23% above last November. The 12-month receipts totaled nearly $15 billion, which is just over 13% higher than the previous 12-month period.

            With the positive economic outlook, we’re anxiously awaiting the preliminary certification of revenues by the State Board of Equalization at the end of this month. This will give us an idea of what level of revenue we’ll have available for the FY’23 budget. Gov. Stitt will also use that initial amount for his budget proposal that he’ll share with the Legislature on the first day of session. We’ll then get the actual amount we have available to spend after their February meeting, but things are looking good so far.

            Working on the budget is a year-round process. Throughout the summer and fall, agencies are formulating their budget requests for the next legislative session. At that same time, legislators are meeting with constituents, organizations, and state agencies to see what issues need to be tackled in the coming session. Members also participate in national conferences and interim studies to better understand important issues. On Oct. 1, agencies submit their budget requests to the governor and Legislature for the upcoming fiscal year. The legislative appropriations subcommittees then begin our agency budget and performance hearings at the end of the year.

            This week, our Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, which I chair, heard from the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, the Office of Disability Concerns, the Oklahoma State University Medical Authority, and the University Hospitals Authority OUHCS. These meetings give agencies the opportunity to share how they’re using their current funding and explain their budget requests for the upcoming fiscal year. Once all of this fiscal information is gathered, the various committees then start deciding how much to appropriate to each agency based on their needs and available revenue.

            I hope this holiday season brings you and your family health, happiness, and peace. I know this can be a difficult time for many, so if my office can be of any assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out. May we all remember the true reason for the season and enjoy this most blessed time of year as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To contact me, please call (405) 521-5607 or email Frank.Simpson@oksenate.gov.