House Budget Vice Chair Says Comments by Meacham Demonstrate Treasurer’s Lack of Knowledge on Budget Matters

House budget vice chair Rep. Ken Miller, blasted state treasurer Scott Meacham this afternoon in a press release that discounts several “Meachams Myths.”

“I’m surprised that Meacham would make these kinds of claims. The things he is saying just make him look out of touch,” said Rep. Ken Miller(R-Edmond), vice chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. “Unfortunately, it looks like flawed ‘Meacham math’ strikes again.”

Miller was one of about nine Democratic and Republican legislative leaders in the House and Senate who helped to craft a landmark bipartisan state budget agreement that is the earliest in decades and the first ever that will meet the Fund Education First April 1 deadline.

Miller said that Treasurer Meacham has been making unfounded claims about the bipartisan agreement – a plan that passed the Legislature overwhelmingly this week in House Bill 1234 and now awaits action by the governor.

I really can’t understand why Meacham appears to be so upset,” said Miller. “Either he’s upset because we didn’t ask his permission to exercise our constitutional authority to write the budget, or because it doesn’t include the irresponsible spending spree that Meacham has tried to push. Meacham’s executive budget included about a billion dollars in spending backed by irresponsible debt. So I guess that’s why he is lashing out against our fiscally-responsible plan.”

Miller said Meacham’s many factual errors include:

* Meacham Myth: Meacham claims the budget agreement in House Bill 1234 does not provide enough funds for school districts to fund last year’s teacher pay increase for those teachers who have a portion of their salaries funded by federal money – such as special education teachers.

* Fact: The state traditionally does not fund “federally funded” teachers. State agency appropriations for state employee pay raises are prorated based on a percentage of state verses federal funding.

* Meacham Myth: Meacham claims the bipartisan budget does not annualize the pay increase so it includes teachers hired in 2007. “By the time schools would get their money, they would actually see a cut in their operations budget,” Meacham has said.

* Fact: Additional teacher salaries were funded with a $3.5 million supplemental in HB 1234. Additional teachers were funded in the FY-08 appropriation to Common Education based on figures provided by the State Dept. of Education.

* Meacham Myth: Meacham claims the bipartisan agreement funds the STARS program, but that the program doesn’t exist any longer.

* Fact: The STARS (State Transition Aftercare Region System) program exists within the State Military Department. The program was de-funded in FY-05, and the program was re-established in FY-06 through direct funding to the Military Dept.

* Meacham Myth: Meacham claims the bipartisan budget agreement only funds the state’s higher education system at a ‘stand-still’ level which would result in “big tuition increases.”

* Fact: The State Regents for Higher Education received a $101.5 million increase or a 10.9 percent increase for FY-08. The one-time Rainy Day Spillover money used for FY-07 was replaced with on-going revenue in HB 1234. The Governor replaced only $75 million in his
executive budget.

* Meacham Myth: Meacham inaccurately claims the bipartisan agreement only provides the state Department of Corrections about $10 million, when he claims they need $40 million. “They need $40 million for operations to the end of the fiscal year,” Meacham has said. “But
the legislature only provided them $10 million. That will only keep them operating for about 30 days.”

* Fact: The Department of Corrections received sufficient funds to sustain operations until a thorough cash flow analysis can be conducted. The Legislature set aside monies to address additional supplemental needs and perform an audit to evaluate agency operations, best
management practices and future funding needs.

* Meacham Myth: Meacham claims that lawmakers funded a pay increase for correctional officers twice – in the corrections budget and in the general appropriations budget.

* Fact: The Department of Corrections received appropriations to fund the $2,800 across-the-board pay increase for all correctional officers and appropriations to fund the 5 percent salary increase awarded to all state employees including all correctional officers.

* Meacham Myth: Meacham has claimed that funding for state prisons is a function of the number of contract beds paid for, plus corrections salaries.

* Fact: Funding Corrections is not a function of the number of contract beds. The Office of State Finance has allowed the Department of Corrections to submit a budget work program essentially attributing all operations funding shortfalls to the contract bed expenditure line-item.

“Based on his erroneous claims, it’s pretty clear that Scott Meacham either hasn’t read the budget or doesn’t have the slightest clue about state budget matters, which is disturbing considering he’s the state’s treasurer,” Miller concluded. “I hope that when the governor gets back from vacation, he’ll reject the outlandish claims made by Meacham and do
the right thing by signing the bipartisan budget.”


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