Budget Battle Another Abnormal Event During Challenging Legislative Session, Says OKFB's Steve ThompsonThu, 14 May 2020 16:02:18 CDT
Every year the budget holds center stage during the Oklahoma legislative session and this year it took on even a bigger role as lawmakers in a rare move overrode Gov. Stittís veto and passed a budget that is not great but is something we can work with, said Steve Thompson, senior director of public policy for the Oklahoma Farm Bureau.
Thompson talked with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays following the budget action.
This budget is not great but holds the line, Thompson said. There are some small cuts with the average for most agencies hovering around 4 percent.
The largest concern is where we will be at this time next year, Thompson said, as the reserve fund is running low.
This is the first time in my career the House and Senate leaders made the budget presentation, Thompson said. The governorís office really was not represented as they had communications issues during the last month.
The unusual budget maneuvering was just another of the strange things one can attribute to the Covid-19 shutdown.
Weíve missed much of the normal legislative process, Thompson said.
Thompson said numerous agricultural policy issues were discussed by lawmakers. Among the issues were food safety laws connected with farmers selling direct to consumers through farmerís markets, changes in hemp regulations, and an updated definition of what constitutes meat.
The Oklahoma Extension Service received a $2.8 million funding increase passed through the Oklahoma Agriculture Department.
Cattle producers were able to get an Oklahoma Certified Beef label established to help identify and market Oklahoma products.
Overall, Thompson said this has been a difficult legislative session.
Nothing went normal, Thompson said. This was a battle from day one, but the agricultural groups stayed together and united.
Hanging over agricultureís head going into next year is the continued concern over a property tax increase.
Commodity prices are low for everything from wheat to oil, yet farmers still must pay property taxes, regardless of profitability, Thompson said.
To hear more of Ronís interview with Thompson, click on the listen bar below.
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