The Senate moved forward seven measures to fund projects with Oklahoma’s American Rescue Plan funding.
These projects are largely one time infrastructure investments for workforce development and broadband expansion.
The Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding advanced eight measures for a hearing in Monday’s second special session – but one did not advance from the Senate floor.
A nearly $34.9 million investment to expand beds at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health Center – did not advance.
Senator Carri Hicks (D-OKC) says this happened because the House indicated they would not hear the measure.
“I am disappointed to hear that that’s somehow getting caught in political crosshairs at this point, and I would hope that whatever we’re to see to come out of the pandemic relief monies through the American Rescue Plan dollars really put s a heavy emphasis and priority on children’s behavioral health,” Hicks said.
The House did not hear any of the COVID funding measures Monday – in a move that surprised Senators on the floor.
The House will need to pass the bills before the Senate can approve them for a final time.
That means the Senate will need to convene for another day of the second special session.
In spite of political tension – majority floor leader Sen. Greg MccCourtney (R-Ada) calls broadband expansion investments a win.
“The broadband project which is part of what we’re going to kick off today, is huge for Oklahoma, especially for students all across Oklahoma. Just the access to information, the access to good internet, it is a game changer for education in the state of Oklahoma,” McCourtney said.
He says they focused on making one-time investments.
Other projects advancing Monday – $15 million for a School of Optometry at Northeastern State University, and $9 million to expand resources to train more nurses.
“We’ve worked really hard to be sure we don’t saddle the taxpayers of Oklahoma with long term obligations,” said McCourtney.