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Governor Fallin announces date for second special session to address state's budget

(KOKH/FILE)

Oklahoma's governor has announced a date for a second special session of the Oklahoma legislature to convene to address a shortfall in the state's budget.

Governor Mary Fallin reports that the second special session of the 56th legislature will convene Dec. 18. She has yet to officially file an executive order for the session.

“Discussions are continuing with legislators and Oklahomans in all types of professions from across the state on a long-term, predictable solution to fix our budget and fund core services,” Fallin said. “Budget plan estimates are being developed on various revenue proposals. Instead of waiting for final details, I wanted to give legislators enough notice as possible about when they should return to the Capitol."

Lawmakers worked eight weeks to address a $215 million hole in the state's budget after a tobacco tax was ruled unconstitutional. Both the House and Senate passed a budget bill that would have brought cuts to state agencies and pull from one time revenue sources. Gov. Fallin vetoed most of that bill, but kept intact temporary funding for key health and human services.

“This will also give us time to get the latest revenue estimates for the upcoming 2019 fiscal year. A preliminary estimate of available funds for legislative appropriation will be available that week for the Dec. 20 meeting of the Board of Equalization. I am hopeful the estimate will show revenue growth for the 2019 fiscal year," Fallin said.

The governor reports there is still a need for additional revenue to address the loss of funding and also to fund a pay raise for the state's teachers. She believes lawmakers will need to find a plan that will raise around $800 million.

Lawmakers debated a rise in the gross production tax throughout the first special session. Fallin's office reports that $509 million of the 2018 fiscal year budget is one-time funds and future obligations. The state will face a starting deficit of approximately $700 million in 2019.

“Before the session begins, I intend to make specific recommendations on how we can balance the budget and meet our immediate needs. I’ll be working with legislative leaders and others with the goal of having at least the outline of an agreement ready for legislators later this month.”

Speaker of the House Charles McCall criticized Governor Fallin for her veto and call for a second special session.

“We are in this situation because the governor vetoed a compromise bill that would have funded our healthcare programs through the fiscal year without cutting those vital services. Her veto has put those healthcare programs that Oklahomans rely on in a very precarious position and created uncertainty for healthcare providers and citizens."

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