Our friends at the OK Policy Institute have a way of explaining things in a clear fashion. If you are interested in what Governor Fallin’s partial veto of the budget that was passed last week means for our state, please read on.
As you likely know, the legislative special session adjourned last Friday following eight weeks of attempts to pass a new budget to fill the hole triggered by the Supreme Court ruling striking down last session’s smoking cessation fee. After a comprehensive and bipartisan revenue bill fell a mere five shorts of the 3/4 supermajority requirement in the House of Representatives, the new budget that passed the Legislature doubled down on cuts to state agencies and reliance on one-time revenues, which would have left lawmakers with an ever greater shortfall when they returned in February.
Gov. Fallin quickly used her line-item veto authority to veto all but five sections of the General Appropriations bill sent to her that morning, stating that the bill “does not provide a long-term solution to the recurring budget deficits”. She signed sections that will provide additional funding to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Department of Human Services, and Oklahoma Health Care Authority so as to avert devastating cuts that were set to take effect in early December – although these agencies still fall large shortfalls that will need to be addressed in the coming months. She also announced she would call lawmakers back for a new special session “in the near future.”
To help you understand what happened and what it means, we have updated our Frequently Asked Questions about Oklahoma’s special session, There you will find detailed information about what actions the Governor took on the budget, what transpired over the course of the past eight weeks, and where this leaves us.Click here for the FAQs.
You may also be interested in the following:
· Gov. Fallin’s press release explaining her veto of most of the General Appropriations bill.
· Tulsa World article: Reaction of veto to ‘cash and cuts’ budget ranges from ire to applause.
· OK Policy’s statement on the budget passed by the Legislature: "New budget is a squandered opportunity of massive propoprtions"
· OK Policy’s spreadsheet [PDF] showing how much agencies would have received under the vetoed budget bill, with comparisons back to 2009.
· OK Policy’s list of six sensible revenue options for special session.
With her line-item veto, Gov. Fallin has given lawmakers one more opportunity to fix the budget by approving a fair mix of recurring revenue that will help fill our budget holes and allow for raises for teachers and state employees and other critical priorities. We hope you will continue to urge your own two legislators to have the courage to do the right thing when they return to the Capitol.
It is imperative that we stay in contact with our elected officials, letting them know the importance of affordable housing in general and specifically the importance of the Oklahoma Affordable Housing Act which provides $4M per year in state tax credits.