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Senate Republicans Unveil ‘Comprehensive’ Public Safety Funding Plan

Senator Glenn Coffee Senator Glenn Coffee


Senate Republicans unveiled their plan today to undo the “years of neglect” by the Democrat-controlled Senate of prisons, prosecutors, and law enforcement agencies.

The Senate GOP’s broad-based plan includes some short-term funding fixes – such as $7.1 million in supplemental funding to hire more correctional officers and to fully fund state prosecutors.

But the plan also includes tens of millions of dollars in additional long-term proposals for prisons, prosecutors, law enforcement, and homeland security such as:

  • Providing full funding for prisons, district attorneys and law enforcement agencies to prevent the need for supplemental funding in the future;
  • Pay increase for state correctional officers;
  • Ensuring private prison space is fully utilized to ease overcrowding in state correctional facilities;
  • Providing a pay increase to state troopers;
  • Creating a Child Abuse Response Team at the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation;
  • Creating a statewide public safety communications system;
  • Tightening the state’s parole laws to make it more difficult for Gov. Brad Henry to release violent criminals from prison early;
  • Implementing new safeguards to help prevent terrorists and illegal immigrants from obtaining state drivers licenses.

“Senate Republicans have consistently supported public safety – and we have proposed a comprehensive, long-term plan that corrects the years of neglect by Senate Democrats of public safety in Oklahoma. The claim by Senate Democrats to be the heroes coming to the rescue during a prison funding crisis is much like an arsonist taking credit for extinguishing the fire he started.,” stated Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City.

“The Senate Republican plan puts public safety funding where it belongs – among the state’s top budget priorities along with education and transportation. Senate Democrats, on the other hand, have treated funding for prisons, prosecutors, and law enforcement agencies as the second-class citizens of the state budget – short-changing public safety so they can spend more money on liberal social programs,” stated Sen. Owen Laughlin, R-Woodward, a former prosecutor.

“Hard working Oklahomans expect and deserve to be protected when they go to sleep at night, and keeping the public safe is more than just keeping dangerous criminals behind bars – it's also about catching them and prosecuting them. Senate Democrats have been neglecting law enforcement and District Attorneys for too long – and that’s why the Senate Republican’s comprehensive plan for public safety is so important,” stated Sen. Jonathan Nichols, R-Norman, a former prosecutor.

“I was very disappointed to have participated in every meeting of the Public Safety and Judiciary Subcommittee this summer – where we reviewed the prison funding situation – only to see Senate Democrats ignore the opportunity to develop a bipartisan plan and instead hold a partisan press conference to publicize their proposal. This showed they are more interested in politics than good public policy,” said Sen. Jim Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, a senior member of the Senate’s Public Safety and Judiciary Appropriations Subcommittee.

“It will take a significant investment to make up for the Senate Democrats’ years of neglect of public safety funding – which all together totals less than 11 percent of the current state budget. But keeping Oklahoma families safe from the bad guys is worth the investment, and should be one of the most important priorities of our state government. Senate Republicans are working to make it that way,” Coffee said.

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Senate Republicans are consistent, long-time supporters of public safety programs and funding. We have proposed a comprehensive, long-term plan that corrects the years of neglect by Senate Democrats of prisons, prosecutors, and law enforcement agencies.

FY-06 Supplemental Funding

  • $3.2 million to the Department of Corrections to fund 150 additional correctional officers and 50 additional parole officers.

  • $3.9 million to the District Attorneys Council to fully fund state prosecutors’ FY 2006 funding needs.

Long-term Proposals for Prisons/Department of Corrections

  • Beginning in FY 2007, break the Senate Democrats’ cycle of neglect by fully funding the operational budget for DoC during the regular legislative session – eliminating the need for supplemental funding.

  • Ensure that DoC fully utilizes private prison space to ease overcrowding at state correctional facilities.

  • Within three years, bring the DoC to 100 percent authorized strength of 2,558 correctional officers – an increase of 620 correctional officers. (Approximate cost when fully implemented: $13 million.)

  • In FY 2007, increase correctional officers’ salaries by $2,400 per year. (Approximate cost when fully implemented: $6.2 million.)

  • Tighten state parole laws to make it more difficult for violent and habitual criminals to be released early from prison. Under Gov. Henry, the early release of violent criminals has nearly doubled.

Long-term Proposals for Prosecutors

  • Beginning in FY 2007, break the Senate Democrats’ cycle of neglect by fully funding the operational budget for the District Attorneys Council.

Long-term Proposals for Law Enforcement

  • Beginning in FY 2007, break the Senate Democrats’ cycle of neglect by fully funding the operational budget for state law enforcement agencies.

  • Ensure that state trooper academies are funded at least every other year – and more often, if needed – to ensure that the Department of Public safety can maintain 100 percent strength levels for state troopers. (Approximate cost: $1.7 million for a 50-cadet trooper academy.)

  • In FY 2007, provide a $1,200 pay increase for state troopers. (Approximate cost when fully implemented: $1.2 million.)

  • Create and fund a “Child Abuse Response Team” within the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to assist local law enforcement agencies investigate physical and sexual child abuse, abductions, and other crimes against children. The team would be made up of OSBI agents highly trained in investigating child abuse cases, forensic interviewing of children and case development for the prosecution.

Long-term Proposals for Homeland Security

  • Fund the implementation of a statewide interoperable communications system to allow all state and local public safety agencies to communicate with each other. (Approximate one-time cost: $16.2 million.)

  • Implement new safeguards to make it more difficult for terrorists and illegal aliens to obtain Oklahoma drivers licenses.
Contact info
Senator Glenn Coffee's Office - (405) 521-5636