The Governor establishes budget priorities by making a budget proposal. The Governor is the state’s chief executive officer. The Governor is elected statewide for a maximum of two four-year terms. This officer is the head of state, commander of the Oklahoma National Guard, and has powers to appoint many agency heads, declare emergencies, and set policy direction.
The Governor is required to submit an executive budget proposal along with a State of the State speech when the Legislature opens its session on the first Monday in February. This proposal comes about only after significant review of agency requests by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) and by the Governor and staff. Reviews consider the demand for agency services, recent agency spending and performance, and availability of non-appropriated revenues. Agency requests always far exceed the revenue certified by the Board of Equalization. The Governor recommends agency increases and decreases that balance the budget and meet the Governor’s policy priorities.
The Governor’s proposed budget, also known as the Executive Budget, is an extensive document with funding recommendations for every state agency. An executive summary at the beginning of the budget states the Governor’s policy priorities, major changes in recommended agency funding, and recommended changes in state revenues. This section also includes the Governor’s recommended capital budget, which includes major construction projects. The document includes useful information such as revenue histories and estimates, employees allocated to each agency, and recent performance and spending of each agency.
It was once common practice for the Governor’s budget to provide detailed recommendations of funding changes for each agency – for example, how much additional money should be appropriated to the Health Department for immunization campaigns, or which services the Department of Human Services should cut to make up for budget shortfalls. The current practice is for the Governor’s budget to recommend a single lump-sum appropriation for each agency, with some recommendation for how to spend proposed increases. The Governor’s budget rarely if ever specifies which cuts should be made when proposing decreases in funding.
While the Governor’s budget often frames issues that will be important throughout the budget process, the Legislature typically has its own, different priorities. The Governor does, however, attempt to direct discussions to her major priorities throughout the rest of the budget process.