Senate advances bill creating budget office
The Senate approved a bill Monday to create a new state budget office, advancing a central part of the Republican agenda that aims to give lawmakers more accurate financial numbers.
Senate Bill 1 creates the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT), an eight-person department that would conduct performance evaluations of state agencies.
The bill passed the Senate 38 to 10 — Democrats were unified in opposition — and now heads to the House.
Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, the author of SB 1, said around 35 other states have a similar office.
“When we make budget decisions, often times we are left to the whims of the (state) agencies and how much information they want to share with us,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City.
Supporters of the legislation often point to last year’s financial crisis with the state Department of Health.
“The state Department of Health was able to hide $30 million from us because we simply don’t have the access we need,” Treat said.
Treat said the new office would cost the state around $1.6 million in the first year and $860,000 each year after.