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Oklahoma's Budget Process

February 14, 2017 - 1:17pm CST

How the state government spends its money is a concern for most Oklahomans. Where that money goes tells citizens about the priorities of our politicians. Many citizens, however, may not know how the budget is put together or the process it goes through to become law.

Oklahoma operates on an annual budget that must be approved by the Legislature and then signed by the Governor. Oklahoma's fiscal year starts July 1st and ends on June 30th the next year. This means that the upcoming budget for fiscal year 2018 will start on July 1st, 2017 and end on June 30th, 2018.

The budget process starts with each state agency making a budget request based on what that agency says it needs to deliver its services. The requests, due by Oct. 1st, must include the agencies plans on how it will spend the funds requested. These requests are sent to the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES), which manages the budget process. Once the requests are submitted, the Governor’s office and OMES, begin reviewing each request in order to create an executive budget proposal within the limits of the revenues projection certified by the State Board of Equalization. This proposal, must be a balanced budget according to Oklahoma law, and is a recommendation by the Governor on how to appropriate the state's funds. However, the official budget bill must be passed by the state legislature. The Governor must submit the proposal on the first Monday in February at the same time as the legislative session begins.

After the session begins, the Legislature creates appropriation committees that begin creating their own budget proposals. They can either make changes to the executive budget or simply write their own. The committees then submit appropriation bills that must be passed by both chambers before moving on to the Governor. The Governor then has the option to sign, veto, or line item veto, specific provisions and sign the rest. A veto or line item veto can be overturned in the legislature by a two- thirds majority in both chambers, otherwise the veto takes effect.

Before the fiscal year begins agencies that receive funds must create a budget for how they plan to spend the funds they will receive from the State. These work programs are reviewed by OMES to assure that they are in compliance with state laws. After the budget has been approved by both the Legislature and Governor, and all agency work programs have been submitted, the budget takes effect at the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1st. With the legislative session just getting under way we have plenty of time to let our lawmakers know where our priorities lie.