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Meeting cancelled before Oklahoma lawmakers hear 3 budget-related bills

OKLAHOMA CITY - Lawmakers at the Oklahoma State Capitol were to expected to hear three more budget-related bills Tuesday afternoon before their meeting was cancelled.

The Oklahoma House's Joint Appropriations and Budget Committee was set to convene Tuesday to discuss HB1031, HB1032 and HB1033. The bills are in relation to increased taxes on gas and oil companies, teacher pay raises and an expansion on gambling as a revenue-raising measure, respectively.

"By increasing certain types of gambling they're allowed, it would be subject to the same tax that's on gambling now," said Rep. Kevin Calvey, R-Oklahoma City.

Calvey told News 4 he's in support of teacher pay raises but does not agree with the tax increases.

The bills came one day after the Oklahoma House passed legislation that tapped into state cash reserves to help cover some of the money needed to fill a $215 million budget hole. The series of bills would send more than $106 million to three state agencies that would be impacted heaviest should a solution not be found:​

  • ​$23.3 million from the 'Rainy Day Fund' will go toward the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS).
    An additional $24.9 million of carryover funds would also go to ODMHSAS.
  • $29.4 million of carryover funds would go toward the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.
  • $29 million of carryover funds would go toward the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

News 4 spoke to Rep. Jason Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City, on Tuesday. He said he does not believe the three bills that were expected to be heard Tuesday would offer any long-term solutions.

On the House floor Monday, Rep. Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City, told his colleagues addressing the budget crisis was going to take more than a quick fix.

"I see people hurt. When I go to McAlester, you know what they call McAlester, what my clients call McAlester? Meth-allister. We have to properly fund these programs," he said.

The House is scheduled to reconvene Wednesday morning.