This week the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services began alerting care providers that they will have to shut down the state’s entire outpatient behavioral health system, with just a few exceptions, if lawmakers don’t find ways in special session to fill the agency’s $75 million budget hole. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is planning to cut rates paid to doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes by 9 percent — a scenario that would likely put more rural hospitals out of business at a time when pregnant women in rural Oklahoma already are being forced to travel long distances for basic care. Teachers are continuing to flee the state as one study found those who left Oklahoma are making on average $19,000 more per year.
With headlines like these, few can dispute that Oklahoma’s state budget is deeply deficient. The details of how Oklahoma ended up in its latest budget mess are complicated. However, the big picture reason why Oklahoma struggles year after year to fund basic services is simple — we’ve slashed our revenue base.
continue reading Oklahoma taxes are the lowest in our region, and falling