Well, last week was one for the record books for most of Oklahoma. Haven’t seen snow and ice like that in a good long while, if ever.
Here in the district, I received a number of reports about ranchers who had calving problems. I’m passing on some information about the Livestock Indemnity Program provided by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). This disaster assistance is now available for Oklahoma ranchers experiencing higher-than-normal livestock losses due to the adverse weather or for other reasons. For more about the program, you can go to the Oklahoma FSA website at https://www.fsa.usda.gov/Assets/USDA-FSA-Public/usdafiles/FactSheets/livestock_indemnity_program_lip-fact_sheet.pdf or call the state office at (405) 742-1130.
I know this severe winter storm caused multiple problems, but I’m grateful that our area dug out a little quicker than some others. At the Capitol, we cancelled the legislative session on Monday, as we have lawmakers driving in from all across the state, and most state offices and services were closed.
Monday was our original deadline for bills and resolutions to pass out of our Appropriations and Budget subcommittees. We first extended the deadline, but then cancelled many of those meetings. We rolled many of the bills into the full A&B Committee, which met Thursday to consider more than 20 bills. By the time you read this, our standing committees will have reached their deadline. That means we will be spending many hours on the Floor of the House as we consider the majority of the bills that were passed out of committees. All House bills must have passed off the Floor of the House by the March 11th deadline. House bills will have to be passed to advance to the Senate and vice versa. After a short break, committee work will start again to hear Senate bills.
Last week the Board of Equalization met, approving $7.9 billion for the Legislature to appropriate for state services for Fiscal Year 2022. The board certified revenue of $9.6 billion, but $1.7 billion of that is one-time, non-recurring funding. This is a much better revenue picture than anyone first envisioned when the COVID-19 pandemic began last spring. Because the Legislature didn’t use all of the money we could have, saving back $1.1 billion, we are in good economic shape now. We also reopened our state safely for business months ahead of some other states that are now in much worse shape than Oklahoma.
The revenue the board is projecting will allow us to shore up state services and maybe even offer some tax relief. But we again may use the strategy of saving a portion of what we have available. We want to be good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars.