“If there is any silver lining to be found, this is it,” State officials release statements after surplus money is split between agencies
OKLAHOMA CITY – After millions of dollars were mistakenly cut from state agencies last fiscal year, those agencies are getting a partial refund.
Last fiscal year, state agencies were forced to make drastic cuts to cover a $1.3 billion budget shortfall.
Many of those cuts resulted in the loss of jobs, programs and assistance for Oklahoma families.
Just a couple months later, state leaders announced that $140 million no longer needed to be cut, and have since been working to decide what to do with the funds.
Gov. Mary Fallin announced that she was considering holding a special session to discuss using the money for teacher pay raises.
Instead, officials decided to evenly distribute the funds across 62 state agencies.
According to that breakdown, the Department of Transportation was not receiving any money back.
However, $11.4 million in other revenues will be transferred to ODOT.
“This action closes out the 2016 fiscal year and gives agencies available funds to help with budget challenges,” said Governor Mary Fallin. “Although I preferred that legislators would have returned in special session to send more of this money to agencies with the most pressing needs, such as the education, public safety, health, mental health and corrections departments, I’m glad this will provide some relief. Those agencies are among the ones receiving the largest share of this money to either restore services or stave off additional cuts.”
“The return of these funds, while still a net cut, is a rare positive in the historically challenging budget cycle the state is enduring. Agencies are getting about $2.60 back for every $7 that was cut midyear, so the net result is still a cut, but a smaller cut than initially received,” said OMES Director Preston L. Doerflinger. “Opting for a deeper cut was the right call because it allowed funds to be returned instead of cutting funds again and again, which would have happened if the cut was not deep enough. Revenue failures are unpleasant no matter how you slice it, but if there is any silver lining to be found, this is it.”