The budget big picture and little picture

The budget agreement announced today by legislative leaders and the Governor proposes a total of $6.778 billion in state appropriated dollars for FY 2017.  This is a decrease of 5.1 percent from the initial FY 2016 budget and of 1.2 percent from the final FY 2016 budget after mid-year budget cuts and supplemental appropriations. Next year’s budget would be 6.3 percent smaller than in FY 2015 and the smallest since FY 2007. Adjusted for inflation, next year’s budget looks to be $936 million, or 12.1 percent, smaller than that of ten years ago.


The situation for individual agencies varies considerably:

  • A few agencies, including the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, Tax Commission, Election Board, Legislative Services Bureau, Department of Corrections and Court of Criminal Appeals, will see their FY 2017 funding restored at or above their initial FY 2016 levels.
  • The Department of Human Services and Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will see part of this year’s mid-year funding cuts restored, but will end up at less than their initial FY 2016 funding (see this discussion of budget cuts at the Department of Human Services).
  • The Office of Juvenile Affairs, Corporation Commission and Indigent Defense System will be maintained at the same level as in FY 2016 after mid-year cuts. (This is also the case for the Department of Education if you exclude a $47 million supplemental that is being provided to make up for a shortfall in the Ad Valorem Reimbursement Fund).

Most agencies, however, will see cuts in FY 2017 on top of mid-year cuts in FY 2016. Many of those agencies also took cuts going into FY 2016 and in previous years dating back to the downturn of FY 2009-10. For example:

  • The Oklahoma Art Council and Oklahoma Educational Television Authority will be funded at 16.3 percent less in FY 2017 than at the start of FY 2016. Since 2009, the Arts Council has been cut 40.3 percent and OETA has been cut 66.2 percent.
  • The Tourism Department, Department of Environmental Quality and Water Resources Board will be cut 11.6 percent compared to their initial FY 2016 funding. Since 2009, these agencies have been cut by 30.0 percent, 38.5 percent and 14.6 percent.
  • The State Department of Health is facing a 9.3 percent cut from last year, bringing their total cut since 2009 up to 26.7 percent (see this discussion of cuts in Health Department funding)
  • The Regents for Higher Education were slapped with a 15.9 percent cut from last year; since 2009, funding for higher education is down 22.1 percent.


OK Policy released a statement today critical of the budget agreement, which said in part:

While this budget deal may prevent further cuts to common education and Soonercare, it slashes other vital services like higher education, the Health Department, Public Safety, environmental protection, Veterans Affairs, and the arts. The result is likely to be large tuition increases and fewer course offerings in higher education, shuttered county Health Departments and epidemic prevention efforts, dwindling emergency responders, and even larger gaps in mental health treatment for veterans.

You can look at annual funding for every state agency going back to FY 2009 in this Excel spreadsheet, or view funding changes by agency from FY 2019, FY 2015 and FY 2016 to FY 2017 in this PDF.  Note that the F 2017 General Appropriations is SB 1616; although the bill has already passed out of Senate and House committees, it has not yet been posted to the Legislature’s website as of Tuesday evening.


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Former Executive Director David Blatt joined OK Policy in 2008 and served as its Executive Director from 2010 to 2019. He previously served as Director of Public Policy for Community Action Project of Tulsa County and as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma State Senate. He has a Ph.D. in political science from Cornell University and a B.A. from the University of Alberta. David has been selected as Political Scientist of the Year by the Oklahoma Political Science Association, Local Social Justice Champion by the Dan Allen Center for Social Justice, and Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers.

2 thoughts on “The budget big picture and little picture

  1. Do you have the capacity to make the first chart, “Appropriations,” using constant dollars? It would better illustrate this statement “Adjusted for inflation, next year’s budget looks to be $936 million, or 12.1 percent, smaller than that of ten years ago.” Right know, it looks like an increase in funding.

  2. We’re putting together the chart on funding in real (inflation-adjusted dollars) and will share it once it’s ready. Thanks for your suggestion

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