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House, Senate to Require Disclosure of Stimulus Funds Use in Law

House, Senate to Require Disclosure of Stimulus Funds Use in Law


CONTACT:
Jennifer Monies                                                        Randy Swanson
Oklahoma House of Representatives                    Oklahoma State Senate
Office of House Speaker Chris Benge                    Office of Senate President
Office: 405-962-7679                                              Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee
Cell: 405-550-8144                                                 Office: 405-521-5605
Email: jenniferm@okhouse.gov                             Email: swanson@oksenate.gov
 
OKLAHOMA CITY (March 17, 2009) – A resolution that would ensure federal stimulus dollars are spent in an accountable and transparent way passed the Senate today and will soon be considered by the state House.

House Speaker Chris Benge and Senate Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee said Senate Concurrent Resolution 13 requires every state agency that receives federal stimulus funds to submit a plan for the expenditure of such funds to the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and the governor.

Further, the resolution states that an agency cannot spend the federal funds without the additional dollars being accounted for in the state agency’s budget limits put into law every legislative session.

Each year, a budget limitation bill is passed for each agency to show legislative intent in the expenditure of appropriated funds. Under the resolution, agencies will receive legislative guidance on use of the stimulus dollars much like they do every year with state dollars.

“We at the Legislature intend to make sure these funds are spent wisely. Though the governor plays a role in the budget process, it is ultimately the Legislature’s job to appropriate money and make sure it is spent efficiently,” said Benge, R-Tulsa.

“It is critical that these funds are not used for ongoing expenses that will tie the hands of future legislators when the federal funds dry up,” Benge said. “We have an obligation to the people of Oklahoma to protect not only the expenditure of their federal tax dollars as these stimulus funds are distributed, but we also must be committed to protecting the use of their future state tax dollars as well.”

Both Benge and Coffee have delegated their Appropriations Committee chairmen, Rep. Ken Miller and Sen. Mike Johnson, to serve as oversight leaders in the Legislature.

“I’m proud of the members of the Senate for passing this resolution in a bi-partisan manner,” said Coffee, R-Oklahoma City.  “It’s vital that the Legislature invoke its role in holding agencies accountable for their spending.

“The stimulus dollars coming in to the state are not manna from heaven, nor are they in endless supply,” he said.  “The Legislature will fulfill its role in fiscal oversight in this challenging time.”

The resolution passed the Senate today and will move to the House for consideration this week.
 
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