Monday, 18 November, 2019


Budget Bill Passes Oklahoma House After Contentious Floor Debate

The House’s vote in favor of the bill – 123-12 with 15 lawmakers absent – followed the state Senate’s 34-0 approval of Senate Bill 1503 on Nov. 14 The House’s vote in favor of the bill – 123-12 with 15 lawmakers absent – followed the state Senate’s 34-0 approval of Senate Bill 1503 on Nov. 14
Bennie Garza | 16 November, 2017, 05:30

The most confusing discussion involved the County Improvement Roads and Bridges fund, or CIRB, which was created in 2006 to help counties with major improvements beyond normal maintenance.

Another $48.5 million included in HB1019 comes from ending an oil and gas incentive a year and a half early.

The full House and Senate will now take up the bill. Without infusions of cash, the departments of Human Services and Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority - the beneficiaries of the cigarette fee - would have started running out of money as soon as December 1.

The House gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that cuts about $60 million from appropriations across state agencies. Each agency was allocated around $70 million from the $1.50 per pack cigarette tax passed during regular session and later ruled unconstitutional by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

A budget fix nobody wanted - or will admit to wanting, at any rate - passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Wednesday amid recriminations and bitter accusations.

If the bill doesn't pass this week, some state services could be in danger. "Is it ideal? No".

The bill includes almost $60 million in spending cuts for the final seven months of the budget year and more than $100 million in cash pulled from assorted cubbyholes. Veterans Affairs would be subject to a 2.7 percent cut. Mental health and substance abuse services' cut would be $3.7 million, or 1.1 percent of its budget, and human services' cut would be $4 million, about 0.6 percent of its budget. It also depends on the Senate passing legislation that immediately eliminates a gross production tax discount already set to expire in 18 months.

"I personally can not, in good conscious, leave cash in the bank, and look at my constituents and tell them I'm canceling their adult daycare, I'm canceling their advantage waiver services, I'm canceling their in home services", Rep. Jon Echols said. Lawmakers now say she's on board with this stop gap measure.

"I don't care about the consequences for me. You guys that know me know that that's probably one of the most truest statements anyone has ever said in this chamber right now", Echols said. Some said the approved budget is the best plan for now, but the conversation got heated after they recorded their votes. Regina Goodwin and Scott Inman were absent - voted against HB1019, and 12 Republicans joined them.

Republicans, however, are in favor of the latest bill.

"For the amount of money we have, this is the best budget we've put together for today", Wallace said.

HB1019 now goes to the Senate.

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