STATEMENT: Budget deal is fiscally irresponsible, hurts Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens

Oklahoma Policy Institute released the following statement in response to Oklahoma’s FY 2015 budget deal:

The budget deal is fiscally irresponsible and will do serious harm to Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens and those who care for them. Even in a growing economy, Oklahoma’s outdated tax system is not providing adequate revenue for the state’s most important obligations. As a result, much-needed funding increases in some areas will be paid for by raiding reserves and slashing health care for our most vulnerable citizens.

Oklahoma could accept billions in federal funds to extend health coverage to adults below the poverty line. Instead, this budget will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid services since it does not make up for a lost federal match. This budget means more cuts to Oklahoma’s mental health services, which need $21 million just to continue existing programs. It reduces year-to-year funding for the Department of Corrections despite dangerous understaffing at state prisons that has already cost lives. By not taking care of our own, we are making problems more expensive over the long-run and risking costly federal intervention.

These cuts did not have to happen. They are a choice by lawmakers to ignore balanced revenue options while allowing wasteful tax breaks and loopholes to grow and multiply. Oklahomans deserve better.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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