OKLAHOMA CITY (April 9, 2009) – Members of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee called the state treasurer and the agency heads eligible for stimulus funds before their committee today to report how they plan to use the federal money.
Earlier this session, House Speaker Chris Benge designated House A&B Chairman Ken Miller and the members on his committee to serve as an oversight board to ensure federal stimulus dollars are not spent without legislative direction.
“We want to ensure these dollars are spent in a responsible way that will not obligate future legislatures to fill budget holes once the federal funds are exhausted,” said Benge, R-Tulsa.
“Cooperation between legislative members, the executive branch and agency officials is critical to make sure we utilize these funds in a manner that is efficient and transparent to those footing the bill—the taxpayers.”
Members of the committee and other legislative members attended the meeting seeking clarification from the agency heads about the intent for the funds and possible strings that may or may not be attached to spending stimulus dollars.
Rep. Miller said Oklahoma is more fortunate than many states, some of which are looking to use much of their stimulus dollars to fill gaps in their current fiscal years. “It is our duty as the appropriating body of government to account for how these funds are spent,” said Miller, R-Edmond. “To the extent possible, we must concentrate these dollars on one-time expenditures that will not create a budget hole in years to come.”
Additional meetings of the A&B committee will continue as stimulus funds are released and decisions are made on how those dollars will be spent.
“The public deserves to know exactly what these agencies are doing with the federal money, and we will meet as often as necessary to help encourage agency officials to be prudent with taxpayer dollars,” said Miller.