Oklahoma Senate to vote on ‘Plan B’ budget
Published: November 17th, 2017
Oklahoma City – The Oklahoma state Senate will likely vote on what is deemed the “Plan B” budget measure, using reserves and carry-over cash to plug most of a projected gap between available tax revenues and spending demands at various state agencies.
In a statement after the lower chamber approved House Bill 1019X on Wednesday (November 15), Governor Mary Fallin did not commit to sign the measure. In a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK and other news organizations, the Sooner State’s chief executive said, “I’m very disappointed that we weren’t able to come to an agreement on a way to fix our structural issues within our state budget. Let me be clear, these same agencies that provide for the health and safety of our communities, the elderly, poor, mentally ill, and children will continue to be at great risk. The Legislature is leaving close to a $550 million budget gap for next session, which starts in three months, mainly by using one-time gimmicks.”
Speaker of the House Charles McCall, R-Atoka, had a more positive assessment of his chamber’s action, which came on a 56-38 vote, saying in a statement:
“The budget plan passed today by the House of Representatives will immediately end the healthcare crisis created by the loss of revenue from the cigarette fee, and will ensure that vital health programs and services will continue without interruption. This plan will also ensure that 12 essential agencies will receive no further cuts during this fiscal year, including common education, corrections and rehabilitation services. While not a perfect solution, this bill absolutely addresses the immediate need. I encourage the Senate to move on this plan quickly to ensure our most vulnerable citizens can maintain their health services.”
Fallin commented, “Next year is an election year, and if we don’t have the courage or will to put our house in order after one full legislative session and nearly eight weeks of special session, next year will be devastating. Just this week, I have been told we are losing out on new job and investment opportunities. The Department of Commerce has been notified ‘we’ve taken Oklahoma out of consideration’ because its budget is so unstable, it can’t keep teachers and underfunds vital services. We are setting Oklahoma up for failure that will take many years to undo the damage we have done to our state’s image.
“The special session is into its eighth week, and we have talked about different revenue proposals and ways to restructure our budget. Over my last three State of the State speeches, I have repeatedly urged the Legislature to stop kicking the can down the road and put our state on a budget path for success.
“As I told the speaker and pro tem as well as other leaders, my preference would be a revote on “Plan A+” that received 71 votes, just five votes short of passing. The leadership feels members won’t change their votes. Secondly, I asked last week and this past Monday for at least a stand-alone vote on the cigarette tax, which is the reason why we are having special session. The leadership and I have been told that the Democrats will not vote for the cigarette tax as a stand-alone vote. So it’s dead, too, yet the Senate still has a vote on the latest budget plan.
“This is not what I want, and I can tell you the majority of the Legislature doesn’t want it either. The House did get to 71 yes votes on a revenue-raising plan, which, when you include the Senate’s 37 yes votes on a similar measure, was more than a majority of the Legislature. However, getting past the hurdle of State Question 640, which was passed by voters in the early 1990s and requires three-fourths passage on revenue-raising measures, has been difficult.
“I have told our legislative leaders that I would veto any bill that makes severe cuts of $90 million or more to state agencies and spends the $83 million in cash reserves. When a budget bill comes to my desk, I will need to review any additions or changes to what has previously been discussed with our leaders.”
Members of the House Democratic caucus, in a statement not attributed to any one member, said, “[P]assage of the revised general appropriations bill, House Bill 1019, reflects a failure of the Republican majority to listen to their constituents, invest in the state’s future, and uphold their
Because this budget relies so heavily on one-time funding, including the raiding of several agency revolving funds and draining the state’s savings account, House Republicans have once again guaranteed a budget shortfall for the next legislative session.
“House Democrats will continue to fight for responsible, equitable, and stable revenue raising measures that will put our state on a more solid fiscal path going forward, including the revenue measures referenced above, a restoration of income tax cuts for high earners, and a restoration of the gross production tax cuts that have made Oklahoma’s rate the lowest in the nation.”
Dale Denwalt, capitol reporter for The Oklahoman, provided a breakdown of the House vote (http://newsok.com/senate-will-vote-on-budget-cut-bill-friday/article/5572270):
Yes votes included Republicans Greg Babinec of Cushing, Rhonda Baker of Yukon, John Bennett of Sallisaw, Chad Caldwell of Enid, Kevin Calvey of Oklahoma City, Dennis Casey of Morrison, Bobby Cleveland of Slaughterville, Josh Cockroft of Wanette, Jeff Coody of Grandfield, Dale Derby of Owasso, Tim Downing Purcell, Travis Dunlap of Bartlesville, Jon Echols Oklahoma City, John Enns of Enid, George Faught of Muskogee, Scott Fetgatter of Okmulgee, Roger Ford of Midwest City, Avery Frix, of Muskogee, Tom Gann of Inola, Elise Hall of Oklahoma City, Tommy Hardin of Madill, Kyle Hilbert of Depew, Justin Humphrey of Lane, John Jordan of Yukon, Chris Kannady of Oklahoma City, Dell Kerbs of Shawnee, Mark Lawson of Sapulpa, Mark Lepak of Claremore, Ryan Martinez of Edmond, Mark McBride of Moore, Charles McCall of Atoka, Randy McDaniel of Edmond and Kevin McDugle of Broken Arrow.
Other yes votes in the House included Scott McEachin of Tulsa, Marcus McEntire of Duncan, John Montgomery of Lawton, Lewis Moore of Arcadia, Glen Mulready of Tulsa, Casey Murdock of Felt, Carl Newton of Cherokee, Terry O’Donnell of Catoosa, Charles Ortega of Altus, Leslie Osborn of Mustang, Mike Osburn of Edmond, Pat Ownbey of Ardmore, Scooter Park of Devol, John Pfeiffer of Mulhall, Mike Ritze of Broken Arrow, Dustin Roberts of Durant, Sean Roberts of Hominy Todd Russ of Cordell, Mike Sanders of Kingfisher, Earl Sears of Bartlesville, Chuck Strohm of Jenks Zack Taylor of Seminole, Tess Teague of Choctaw Todd Thomsen of Ada, Steve Vaughan of Ponca City, Kevin Wallace of Wellston, Weldon Watson of Tulsa, Josh West of Grove, Kevin West of Moore, Rick West of Heavener, Tammy West of Bethany, and Harold Wright of Weatherford.
No votes came from Democrats Forrest Bennett of Oklahoma City Meloyde Blancett of Tulsa, Ed Cannaday of Porum, Donnie Condit of McAlester, Mickey Dollens of Oklahoma City Jason Dunnington of Oklahoma City, William Fourkiller of Stillwell, Karen Gaddis of Tulsa, Claudia Griffith of Norman, Chuck Hoskin of Vinita, Steve Kouplen of Beggs, Ben Loring of Miami, Matt Meredith of Tahlequah, Cyndi Munson of Oklahoma City, David Perryman of Chickasha, Eric Proctor of Tulsa, Brian Renegar of McAlester, Shane Stone of Oklahoma City, Johnny Tadlock of Idabel, Emily Virgin of Norman, Collin Walke of Oklahoma City, Cory Williams of Stillwater, George Young of Oklahoma City and Jacob Rosecrants of Norman.
The Republican opposed to the measure was Jason Murphey of Guthrie.
Not voting on the budget measure were Carol Bush, R-Tulsa, Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, Katie Henke, R-Tulsa, Scott Inman, D-Del City, Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City, Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa, Jadine Nollan, R-Sand Springs, Michael Rogers, R-Broken Arrow and Rande Worthen, R-Lawton.