The Supreme Court’s ruling that struck down a $1.50 per-package smoking cessation fee passed by lawmakers in May has created a genuine state emergency. If the Legislature does not find new revenues in special session to replace those rejected by the Court, the consequence will be unimaginable cuts to health care and other protections for our state’s most vulnerable citizens — with the greatest harm to children, seniors, and people with severe disabilities and mental illness. The special session began September 25 and so far no agreement has been reached. Lawmakers need to hear from you now! To help keep you informed about what’s happening at the Capitol, we are providing daily updates to our Special Session Frequently Asked Questions.
Short message: Fix the budget and pay for a teacher raise with multiple recurring revenues. No more budget cuts or one-time money that creates an even deeper hole next year.
- The situation is critical. Unless lawmakers find a solution soon, the health and human service state agencies that have been affected by the loss of smoking cessation fee funds will be forced to enact catastrophic cuts, including the elimination of all outpatient mental health services. There is no time left to wait and no time to play politics.
- Oklahoma’s state budget was severely underfunded, even before the court threw out the cigarette fee. That budget was worsening the teacher shortage, forcing the closure of senior nutrition sites, cutting support for foster families, and not even beginning to undo the damage to our communities caused by years of cuts.
- Lawmakers now have a second chance to get it right and fix the budget by passing widely-supported revenue options. Lawmakers should spread the cost of increased taxation fairly and not insist on only one option. Good options include an end to unnecessary tax breaks for big oil and gas, a modernized gas tax, an increased top rate on very high incomes, itemized deduction reform, a roll-back of wasteful tax breaks like the capital gains exemption, and an increased cigarette tax. See a fact sheet on these revenue options here.
- Lawmakers must focus on recurring revenues in special session and stop relying on one-time revenues and budget gimmicks that increase the structural deficit.
What You Can Do
Contact your own two legislators, the House Speaker, the Senate President Pro Tem and the Governor to insist that they use Special Session to find the new recurring revenues needed to avert deeper cuts, invest in key priorities, and put the budget on a sustainable path.
- Use the form below to find your legislators.