We received more good news about Oklahoma’s economy this past week with the release of the state treasurer’s report for March. According to the report, March gross receipts of $1.38 billion were up by almost 23 percent compared to March of 2021, a record high. The report also shows 12-month receipts of $15.87 billion, which is also a record high and is an increase of more than 20 percent compared to the previous period.

Meanwhile, work continues on the state’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which begins this July 1. As an appropriations subcommittee chair, I meet weekly, along with the other subcommittee chairs, with Senate Appropriations Chair Roger Thompson and Vice Chair Chuck Hall, with additional meetings as needed. While our economic indicators remain excellent, I continue to advocate for a fiscally conservative budget that will ensure core services are funded while helping us better prepare for future economic changes that are bound to occur.

In addition to budget negotiations, the Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding, a bipartisan, bicameral panel charged with evaluating proposals for the use of federal funds, along with the working groups under that panel, is continuing the task of vetting specific proposals from the public on how to best use those federal dollars.

By the time the portal for submitting ideas closed on March 30, nearly 1,500 proposals had been submitted, for a total of $17.9 billion in requests. Keep in mind, the state’s share of federal pandemic American Rescue Plan (ARPA) dollars is about $1.87 billion. The job of the working groups and the joint committee is to vet those proposals to determine eligibility, prioritize the projects and make recommendations to the governor on the submissions that will meet our goal of moving Oklahoma forward and leaving us better prepared should we face another emergency like this again.

While Senate committees continued hearing and voting on House bills ahead of the April 14 deadline for action, we also turned our attention this past Wednesday to one of my favorite events of the session – Oklahoma State University Capitol Cowboy Day.

Though many universities hold advocacy days throughout the session, none come close to OSU’s special day. Each year, students, faculty, alumni, and administrators take the time to come visit as many members of the Legislature as possible, advocating for our university. My wife, Ann, joined me for Wednesday’s events, and I was very happy to tell some of the students I visited with that I wear an orange tie every single day of the legislative session. I am incredibly proud to be a Capitol Cowboy.

I authored a citation, along with Representatives Trish Ranson and John Talley, expressing our gratitude to Oklahoma State University for its dedication to education, service, leadership, and ongoing resolve to make our world a better place by the contributions of the university, its students and faculty, and by the values they represent on behalf of our entire state.

Again, I want to express my thanks to all the OSU students and supporters who made it such a special day at the Capitol.

I thank you for the privilege of being your voice at the state Capitol. If you have any questions or concerns about legislation or other issues at the state level, please feel free to contact my office by calling 405-521-5572, or email Tom.Dugger@oksenate.gov.

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