State Rep. Leslie Osborn on Thursday filed a bill that would give lawmakers greater flexibility to sell state assets – the Grand River Dam Authority - if necessary during the state’s budget downturn.
The bill would authorize the state to sell, transfer or dispose of some or all assets and interests of the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA). The GRDA supplies electric power to Sallisaw and other cities and towns. A sale of GRDA to a for-profit power company would most likely result in increased electric costs for the city and its residents, and other who purchase power from the GRDA.
Osborn (R-Mustang) said the plan would outline the steps and clarify how the process would work to divest of GRDA should the state choose to do so.
“This bill does not require us to sell the GRDA, but it gives us the option if our budget situation continues to worsen,” said Osborn, chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. “We have lost nearly $2 billion in revenue during the last two years, and our options are limited in how we make up that shortfall. This bill enables us to perform the due diligence necessary to make an informed decision in the future. If and when that decision comes, we need to be fully informed so that whatever decision is made will be in the best interests of the state.”
Osborn said the process outlined in the bill is important, which includes the Oklahoma Secretary of Finance preparing a report that describes in detail the property and interests of GRDA that could be the basis of any future transactions.
Osborn said she consulted with several energy companies and utilities on the language of the bill. She said the plan would be similar to an energy corporation selling non-core assets to raise cash and strengthen their balance sheets during a time of protracted low commodity prices.
“In these times of sustained low revenues, it is incumbent upon us as a state to put every fiscal option on the table for review,” said Osborn.
The 2017 legislative session reconvenes on Feb. 6.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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