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$230 million taken from counties to fill state budget holes spurs county advocacy efforts years later

$230 million taken from counties to fill state budget holes spurs county advocacy efforts years later
Updated: Thu, August 15, 2019 1:23 AM

When Oklahoma lawmakers faced extreme budget holes in the last few years, roughly $230 million was taken from a fund helping county governments in the state complete extraordinary road and bridge projects they couldn’t otherwise afford.

County commissioners were frustrated, though they understood the scope of the state’s need. But the loss of money has since pushed county officials to become more actively engaged in advocacy efforts.

“Everyone has been focused on the fact that we still have these needs, they are getting worse and we need to do something,” said Gene Wallace, director of the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma. “It really gave an emphasis for more and more of our commissioners to get involved. Nothing mobilizes you like a crisis.”

City, state and federal policies around transportation, criminal justice, agriculture, health services, the environment and more all impact how counties can operate. Contracts to hold inmates in county jails, permits to build roads and bridges and funding for special projects are only a few of the direct interactions counties will have with other government entities... FULL ARTICLE

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