Governor Mary Fallin called two special sessions of the Legislature in 2017-18. The first was aimed at filling a $215 million hole to the budgets of three health agencies – the Department of Mental Health and Substance Services, Department of Human Services, and Oklahoma Health Care Authority – that was triggered by the Supreme Court decision striking down the smoking cessation fee passed in May. The Governor also insisted that special session provide long-term budget solutions. The second special session began in December 2017 and then ran concurrently with the 2018 regular session from February through mid-April. In late March and early April, the House and Senate passed a series of revenue and funding measures aimed at providing raises for teachers and other workers, as well as boosting operating support for schools. The second special session adjourned on April 19th.
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(Last Updated: April 20, 2018, 9:00 am)
The first eight-week special session convened on Monday September 25th and adjourned on Friday November 17th. After efforts to pass a “grand bargain” revenue plan fell short, Gov. Fallin used her line-item veto authority to veto all but five sections of the General Appropriations bill, stating that the bill “does not provide a long-term solution to the recurring budget deficits”. The non-vetoed section provided enough revenue to avert imminent cuts to the three health agencies. The Governor announced she would call a new special session “in the near future.”
In December, lawmakers convened in the second special session and passed supplemental funding measures for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Human Services. Special session reconvened on February 5th, concurrently with regular session, to address a series of bills that emerged from the Step Up Oklahoma plan. Following the failure of the main Step Up revenue bill, HB 1033xx, legislative leaders turned to closing out the FY 2018 budget by introducing a new General Appropriations bill, HB 1020xx, that filled most of the remaining shortfall for the three health agencies by spreading $46 million in cuts across all appropriated agencies.
On March 26th, the House passed a set of bills that give teachers and other school employees and state workers a pay raise, as well as increasing operating support for schools. Most of these increases will be funded with new revenue approved in HB 1010xx, which passed the both chambers with enough votes to clear the three-quarters supermajority requirement for revenue bills. The Legislature also passed pay raise bills and the FY 2019 education appropriation bill. The Senate subsequently voted to approve bills that expanded collections from online sales and from tribal gaming, while repealing a new lodging tax that was part of HB 1010xx. A group opposed to tax increases, Oklahoma Taxpayers United!, has announced plans for a veto referendum to challenge HB 1010xx.
The Senate adjourned special Session on April 17th and the House followed suit April 19th.
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