The conservative approach to criminal justice:
fighting crime, supporting victims, and protecting taxpayers.

Oklahoma’s Budget Crisis

| December 4, 2017

Oklahoma continues sliding deeper into its budget crisis as the Department of Corrections Director is now requesting an additional one billion dollars to accommodate the state’s growing inmate population.

The total DOC budget request is 1.53 billion dollars for fiscal year 2019 which begins July 1st. Oklahoma state government is facing a severe crisis as the budget passed during the regular 2017 legislative session was ruled unconstitutional and the Governor vetoed the budget passed in special session. Governor Fallin has said she plans to call the legislature back for a second special session to resolve the budget breakdown. Asking for more than one billion dollars to build two new prisons will only make Oklahoma’s financial problems worse.

However, lawmakers have an opportunity to avert disaster by considering recommendations made by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Reform Task Force. The recommendations include provisions for early release of non-violent inmates, reducing mandatory sentencing for low-level offense such as drug possession and property theft, and also providing alternative sentencing for non-violent crimes.

On a positive note, the five reform bills to come out of the Governor’s Task Force ended with a “Conferees Do Not Agree” report in the House Judiciary committee. That means the bills are eligible to be heard within the first week of the 2018 legislative session. Leadership should take this opportunity to enact policies proven to work in other conservative states such as Texas, Georgia, and Mississippi.

Oklahoma must do the same because, simply put, it is the conservative and responsible thing to do.

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ANDREW SPENO previously worked as President of Media Strategies at Dry Design Group, a media consulting firm focusing on work with law firms, political candidates, lawmakers, and private companies. Andrew was the main news anchor at the Fox News affiliate in Oklahoma City from 2001 to 2012, and was the only main anchor in Oklahoma City to report almost daily, focusing on political and investigative reporting. His work has won more than 25 awards from the Associated Press, Society for Professional Journalists, and The Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters. He was also named on Oklahoma City’s “40 Under 40” list as one of the most influential people younger than 40 in 2003.

At Dry Design Group, Andrew trained attorneys in a wide range of practice areas to provide legal analysis for the media, served as press secretary for several Republican campaigns, and worked with State Senator Kyle Loveless and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs to introduce civil asset forfeiture reform to Oklahoma. Andrew uses his wide experience in politics and journalism to promote conservative criminal justice reform to both lawmakers and the general public. Andrew was a political science major at Illinois College, attended law school at Northern Illinois University, and did his graduate work in broadcast journalism at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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