For Immediate Release
Oklahoma Policy Institute Executive Director David Blatt released the following statement in response to Governor Fallin’s State of the State address and FY 2019 Executive Budget:
Governor Fallin has identified the right goals for this year’s legislative session: pass new revenues to fix the budget and provide a teacher pay raise, reform ineffective and cruel criminal justice policies, and fund mental health and addiction treatment. The structural budget deficit and incarceration crisis are years in the making, but Oklahomans from many backgrounds have reached a remarkable consensus on the direction that we need to go.
While the Governor’s address identifies the right problems, her budget makes clear that we still have a long way to go to fully solve them. Even with all revenues from the Step Up Oklahoma plan included, Governor Fallin’s FY 2019 budget does nothing to increase general support for K-12 schools and higher education that have been cut the most in the nation. It does not address overcrowding and staff shortages in state prisons. It does not provide pay increases for thousands of state workers, many of whom have gone more than a decade without a raise. It does not undo cuts to community health providers or reduce the long developmental disabilities care waiting list.
The Governor’s proposals are a first step towards correcting a decade of cuts and underfunding. However, Oklahoma has much more to do put our state on a path to good health, safety, and prosperity for all of us.