Statement: Lawmakers must go back to special session and finish job of funding core services

The SOS Coalition, which includes Oklahoma Policy Institute and 20 other organizations, released the following statement on today’s Oklahoma Supreme Court decision that threw out a cigarette fee and created a $214 million hole in the budgets of SoonerCare ($70 million loss), the Oklahoma Department of Human Services ($69 million loss), and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services ($75 million loss):

“This ruling confirms that the Legislature did not complete its job this year of crafting a balanced budget that pays for the core services Oklahomans expect and need.

Governor Fallin shouldn’t wait a single minute to call a special session and instruct the Legislature to find additional revenue, fix the broken budget, undo cuts to core services, and invest in education. The Save our State Coalition has issued a blueprint for a better budget that does just that, and we urge lawmakers to take it seriously.

Countless Oklahomans whose lives depend on state services are waiting for our Legislature to do the right thing. If the Legislature does not find new revenues 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 on children, seniors, and people with severe disabilities.”

You can read the court decision here, find our pre-decision analysis of the Supreme Court case here, see Governor Fallin’s statement about the decision here, read the Save Our State Coalition’s Blueprint for a Better Budget here, and see other revenue options for a better budget here.

Please contact your two legislatorsHouse Speaker Charles McCall, and Senate President Mike Schulz and tell them it is their duty to go into special session and find the revenues to prevent even more cuts to the core state services that Oklahomans expect and need.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gene Perry joined OK Policy in January 2011. 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. Gene also serves on the board of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network, is a trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, and has chaired the communications advisory committee for the State Priorities Partnership, a nationwide network of state fiscal policy think tanks. He lives in Tulsa with his wife Kara Joy McKee, who is a Tulsa City Councilor.

7 thoughts on “Statement: Lawmakers must go back to special session and finish job of funding core services

  1. Since the legislature didn’t do the job they were elected to do I think they should pay for the special session themselves.

  2. Oklahoma has been reported at the bottom in Education spending yet the pay for Legislators is nearly 10th highest in the country. Could we, the voters, now move to reverse that?

  3. For the past ten years, I’ve served on the board of Mental Health Services of Southern Oklahoma. It has been a constant struggle to provide services for mentally ill persons who live all around us in all our communities. One in four adults will suffer a major mental illness crisis at some time in their life. Four other people, very possibly a family member, may not be able to receive life-saving care if the Legislators don’t do their job in a special session.

    The people who work at Mental Health Services are dedicated and courageous. They look for every way to save money without jeopardizing services to clients. It is the important work of literally SAVING PEOPLE’S LIVES. It is unconscionable that the legislature would choose to give tax breaks to the wealthy and continue to have oil companies pay less than almost every other oil/gas-producing state does.

    On behalf of the mentally ill people in the state of Oklahoma, I call on Governor Fallin to immediately call a special session of the legislature. Then, the legislators need to stop playing games with people’s lives by playing politics and GET THE JOB DONE. It is a matter of life and death.

  4. I think it important to note the politics of this. The majority party(Republican) sought to fill the revenue hole. The minority party(Democrat), with their predilection for increased taxation and spending, refused to participate in only ling the hole. They instead insisted on expanding the universe of taxation – or nothing. So here we are.

    President Truman, a good Democrat of measureable note, coined a phrase appropriate for this: the do nothing congress(legislature). One result is that the primary accomplishment of this past legislative session may well be that they expanded the selling of liquor to include grocery stores on Sunday.

    A special session should convene, pass that tax with the required majority(requiring the participation of both parties), earmark the funds instead of letting the professional bureaucrats spend them wherever they choose, and task the legislative staff to come up with viable and practical ideas for the next session.

  5. The budget hole was created by excessive tax cuts by the Republicans without filling the gaps created by the cuts. The dumbing down of Oklahoma is complete thanks to the GOP.

  6. Make the possession drug crime and low level property crime law retroactive. Remove the 50% restriction from drug crimes and allow traffickers to receive prison credits. This would release all inmates doing just a possession crime and make the time spent in prison more equal for everyone there. Lots of inmates that are serving 50% or trafficking could have been charged with a lesser crime. Lots that are not restricted from credits did could have been filed that way…but werent. Put a time limit on how long it takes to get a final decision on an appeal.

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