Oklahoma Senate passes 'cash and cuts' budget bill


The Oklahoma Senate has passed a budget bill bringing cuts to state agencies and pulling cash from funds that could lead to the end of a lengthy special session.

The Senate passed HB 1019X 29-14 Nov. 17. The bill now heads to the governor's desk to be signed into law. The bill puts cuts of approximately 2.5 percent to most state agencies and will use $23 million from the Rainy Day fund, $23 million in carryover funds, $60 million in revolving funds and revenue from a gross production tax increase to legacy oil wells to fill the rest of the bill. It previously passed the House with a 56-38 vote.

The bill will cut more than $60 million from more that four dozen agencies. Agencies that would see the most cuts under the plan are higher education, health care authority, human services, mental health, and transportation.

Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz said that this isn't how his chamber wanted to resolve the budget.

"Given the inability of the House to successfully pass revenue-raising measures it’s the best option left to avoid devastating cuts to three health care agencies. This bill also ensures essential mental health programs and health-care waiver programs will be preserved," Schulz said.

Schulz says that the Senate will continue to work to find sustainable streams of revenue.

Governor Fallin has previously stated this is not the plan she wanted. At the beginning of the session she stated she would veto any plan that makes cuts of $90 million or more to state agencies. She stated Wednesday she will have to review the current plan.

The Senate also passed HB 1028X to submit a corrective action report to be submitted to the Oklahoma Legislature by Jan. 1. The bill comes in the wake of furloughs due to alleged financial mismanagement at the department. The head of the department and several others have lost or resigned from the positions following the revelations. Also passed was HB 1085, which increases the gross production tax on legacy wells from four percent to seven percent.

Both the Senate and House adjourned Friday. On Thursday, the Legislative Compensation Board voted 4-3 on Thursday to impose a 8.8 percent pay cut on legislators.

Each day of the legislative session cost tax payers about $30,000.

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