The $45 million transferred from Oklahoma’s $577 million rainy day fund will reimburse local government relief efforts related to the tornados that slammed the state May 19 and 20, Gov. Mary Fallin said.
The Legislature unanimously adopted a bill transferring the $45 million from the Constitutional Reserve Fund to the State Emergency Fund. Lawmakers can allocate up to 25% of the fund for emergency expenses.
“The tornadoes that struck several Oklahoma communities this week were absolutely devastating,” Fallin said Thursday. “We are currently in an all-hands-on-deck effort to recover and rebuild.”
President Obama declared Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma and Pottawatomie counties a federal disaster area as a result of the tornadoes that killed 26 people and caused at least $2 billion of property damage.
With the declaration, the Federal Emergency Management Administration will reimburse 75% of infrastructure losses by local governments. The remaining costs are borne equally by the state and the local entities.
The federal reimbursement rate is 85% for expenses claimed within 30 days, and 80% for those submitted within 60 days.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management estimated it would use $25 million of the rainy day fund allocation for the local government match. The remainder will go to state agencies that responded to the disasters.
A proposed $500 million state bond issue to build more storm shelters at public schools failed to gain traction in the final days of the 2013 legislative session, but the plan’s sponsor said he will try again in 2014.
“Nothing will happen this legislative session on a presentation of a bond package for storm shelters,” said Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs.
His proposed bond package would have provided $400 million to local school districts for emergency shelters. Another $100 million would have funded a state program that assists homeowners and group home operators with construction of residential shelters.
Dorman said he and a Republican colleague will request an interim study this year on the need for a state bond issue.
“Hopefully we’ll have something to present to the Legislature next year,” Dorman said.