Bill Redirecting Responsibility of SQ781 Funds Passes Committee
OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation redirecting responsibility of funds saved from State Question 780 has been approved by the House Public Health Committee.
Senate Bill 844, authored by Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond, moves the administration of the State Question 780 funds from the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS). It also moves the calculation of the actual savings from SQ780 from OMES to the Legislative Office on Fiscal Transparency (LOFT).
Under State Question 781, approved by Oklahoma voters in 2016, the averted costs from the prior fiscal year saved due to the reduction of the number and length of incarcerations are to be invested in county treatment programs, such as substance abuse counseling and mental health services. LOFT estimated cumulative savings of around $33 million since SQ780 was implemented.
“Oklahomans made their voices heard when they approved State Question 781, and their elected officials and state government have an obligation to uphold their decision, but right now, the funding saved hasn’t been invested into local mental health resources as State Question 781 directed,” Miller said. “It’s my hope that redirecting which agency is in charge of these funds will result in the necessary investment into mental health resources and ultimately further reduce incarceration.”
Miller emphasized that SB844 is not an appropriations bill, but merely moves the responsibility of the funds to a more appropriate agency and office.
SB844 passed the House Public Health Committee 5-0 and is now available to be heard on the House floor. It was authored in the Senate by Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah.