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Today In The News
In Search of a Grand Bargain: Ways to Bridge Budget Gap: As Oklahoma’s 2017 legislative session enters its fourth week, one thing is abundantly clear: Republicans, Democrats and Gov. Mary Fallin are nowhere close to a budget deal. The Legislature and governor’s office have until the end of May to sign off on a plan that closes an $878 million budget shortfall for the upcoming year. Their challenge is even more daunting given lawmakers’ goals to give teachers at least a $1,000 raise (costing an extra $52 million) and to shore up education, public safety and human services budgets for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30 (costing $48 million to $118 million) [Oklahoma Watch].
Time to Panic? Policymakers, Public Divided on ‘Dire’ Budget Warnings: Moments after explaining how another state revenue failure will require millions of dollars of mid-year budget cuts, Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger issued a warning to lawmakers and top state officials. “I don’t know how much more I can emphasize that the time for action is now,” he said at last week’s Board of Equalization meeting, at which the group also certified revenue figures that show an $878 million shortfall for next year. “It’s not a game. We need new revenue.” [Oklahoma Watch]
Vote threshold creates high bar for Oklahoma tax increases: When Oklahoma voters approved a state question in 1992 that required all tax increase proposals receive a three-quarters approval of the Legislature, anti-tax advocates saw the measure as a return of power to the people after a series of tax-raising bills over the years. Today, as state lawmakers grapple with a budget hole and consider raising taxes and fees, the restriction approved by voters 25 years ago may actually be giving power to a minority of legislators opposed to any tax increase or Democrats seeking leverage [NewsOK].
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