The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

May 13, 2014

Oklahoma House gives final OK to prison funding

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma House gave final approval Tuesday to a $13 million supplemental appropriation measure to help Oklahoma’s prison system pay its bills in spite of the concerns of some House members that the funding bill is unconstitutional.

The House voted 68-23 for the measure and sent it to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk to be signed into law. House members then voted 81-8 for an emergency clause that will allow the measure to go into effect as soon as it is signed. The Senate passed the measure last week.

The House author, Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, says the measure appropriates $13 million to the Department of Corrections to help it pay is bills through the end of the fiscal year that ends June 30.

Martin, chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, said the agency is constitutionally required to pay its current bills before the end of the fiscal year. Martin said money for the supplemental appropriation will come from surplus general revenue funds from the previous year.

The measure also gives the director of the Department of Corrections more authority to tap an internal agency revolving account. Martin said the agency, whose budget this year totals $463 million, is facing a $27 million shortfall that the supplemental appropriation and money from the revolving fund will close.

The department will use the money to pay for private prison beds, a backup of inmates in county jails and inmate medical services.

Opponents of the bill said it’s likely to face a legal challenge.

Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, said he believes the measure is unconstitutional because general revenue surpluses must be used to pay off bonded indebtedness.

“That is the single constitutional purpose for which this money is allowed,” Reynolds said. “This is a court challenge waiting to happen.”

Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, said lawmakers were abdicating their responsibility to provide oversight of the agency by giving more authority to the director.

Morrissette also said the Department of Corrections is under-budgeted and that too much tax revenue is set aside for state inmates in private prisons.

“We’re not running this like a business,” Morrissette said. “The process is wrong. Let’s try to get it right.”

A spokesman for the Department of Corrections, Jerry Massie, said Director Robert Patton was “very pleased” with final passage of the bill. A spokesman for Fallin, Alex Weintz, said the governor is expected to act quickly to sign it.

1
Text Only
National and world
  • APTOPIX Hospital Shoo_Hass.jpg Official: Hospital gunman intended to kill others

    A psychiatric patient ranted about a hospital gun ban before opening fire at the suburban medical complex, killing his caseworker and grazing his psychiatrist before the doctor pulled out his own weapon and fired back.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates

    On the other hand, with a net favorability of -8, Jar Jar is considerably more popular than the U.S. Congress, which currently enjoys a net favorability rating of -65.

    July 25, 2014

  • g000258000000000000245c0063741aaafcc815c5b3199362fb09f8a7c3.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    
Gibson called Diamond City Hall for help but the police chief was out on another call. The city clerk came to join in the surveillance ...

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Severe Weather web.jpg Tornado slams Virginia campground; 2 dead

    A couple from New Jersey was killed when a tree fell on their tent. Their 13-year-old son, in a tent next to them, had life-threatening injuries.
    He was among three dozen people hurt.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Aviations Bad Week web.jpg Bad week for aviation: Airline disasters come in a cluster

    Industry analysts and safety experts shake their heads at the seeming randomness of the tragedies, saying they can find no common themes. Nor do they think the events indicate that flying is suddenly becoming less safe.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obama Economic Patriotism web.jpg Obama wants limits on mergers abroad by U.S. companies

    “They’re technically renouncing their U.S. citizenship. They’re declaring they are based someplace else even though most of their operations are here,” Obama said at a technical college in Los Angeles. “You know, some people are calling these companies corporate deserters.”
    He also charged that such companies are “cherry-picking the rules.”

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona Execution web.jpg As inmate died, lawyers debated if he was in pain

    Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan read a statement Thursday outside his office dismissing the notion the execution was botched, calling it an “erroneous conclusion” and “pure conjecture.” He said IVs in the inmate’s arms were “perfectly placed” and insisted that Wood felt no pain.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Economic Recovery web.jpg U.S. economy, though sluggish, may now be sturdier

    • Inflation is under control. Runaway price increases would be destructive. Low inflation can lay a foundation for growth.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast web.jpg Casualty numbers raise questions about Gaza war

    A Palestinian health official put the death toll at 695 and said more than 4,100 were wounded, with civilian casualties rising sharply since Israel sent tanks and troops into Gaza last week in its first ground operation in five years.
    Israel has not offered its own count, but Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said Wednesday that 210 Gaza militants were killed since the ground operation began.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Oil Train Fires web.jpg Stopping deadly oil train fires: New rules planned

    Accident investigators have complained for decades that older tank cars, known as DOT-111s, are too easily punctured or ruptured, spilling their contents when derailed. Since 2008, there have been 10 significant derailments in the U.S. and Canada in which crude oil has spilled from ruptured tank cars, often igniting and resulting in huge fireballs. The worst was a runaway oil train that exploded in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic a year ago, killing 47 people.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads