OCPA’s Jonathan Small issues statement on DHS Budget and Spending
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Published: 20-Jul-2017

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Jonathan Small, President of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), released the following statement on Wednesday (July 19) regarding the budget and spending of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS):
“It’s no secret that Oklahoma is hurting because Oklahoma families are hurting. While DHS plays an important role in helping those in need, it is not exempt from the same economic realities and budget cuts that working Oklahoma families and other state agencies are experiencing.
“The state’s economy has underperformed in recent years, particularly due to low energy prices depressing the state economy’s overall performance and thereby reducing tax revenues. The price of oil has declined 63 percent from when net total state tax collections were at all-time highs.
“Oklahoma is in a recession compared to 2014, after more than 21,800 energy and manufacturing jobs have been cut, when Oklahomans have lost more than $13 billion in taxable income, and reduced their purchases subject to sales and use tax by $4.1 billion. When times are tough, it’s only appropriate that state government adjust spending to match income, just like working Oklahoma families do every day.
“House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, correctly pointed out that DHS received a $53 million increase from taxpayers this session. Last session, DHS received $700 million in taxpayer dollars. Speaker McCall, Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schultz, R-Altus, and a majority of the Oklahoma legislature are to be commended for understanding that working Oklahoma families are hurting. We appreciate their continual efforts to respect the pain felt by working Oklahoma families and to avoid harmful tax increases that would worsen Oklahoma’s hurting economy.
“Government has no birth right to taxpayer dollars. Rather, the needs of core services must be balanced and the extensive performance audits proposed by Speaker McCall provide an opportunity, just as they did with our criminal justice system, to realize what duties and efforts can be reformed or decreased."

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