OKLAHOMA - The state has a problem it didn’t realize it had: $166 million.
There are two options on the table.
Should that $166 million go back to state agencies proportionally, or should our lawmakers go back to a special session to decide who needs that money the most?
“I really hope somebody there takes an accounting class and knows where the money is,” said Rep. Cory Williams.
In the last month of the fiscal year, there’s a bombshell revelation at the state capitol.
Back in February, additional 4 percent across the board cuts hit our state agencies and, since then, officials running those agencies have had to make tough decisions.
“When their budgets are cut, that's one thing, but then to find out a few months later their budgets were arbitrarily cut more than they were legally supposed to has got to be insult to injury,” said Sen. John Sparks.
State officials said they authorized the agency cuts because they were forecasting less money coming into the state due to low oil prices and energy sector employees losing their jobs.
Tuesday, State Finance Director Preson Doerflinger told NewsChannel 4:
“Making a perfect projection when revenues are as volatile as they are in a revenue failure environment is a difficult, if not impossible task. The best decision based on the information available at the time was made, and we are pleased the possibility exists to restore some of these funds,” Doerflinger said.
“We have a way of projecting things accurately. We just choose not to do so. We have been building this budget on fuzzy, very fluffy inaccurate numbers for quite some time,” Williams said.
Some want a special session.
“We failed on multiple counts. We need to go in and just do a fiscal situation in special session. I think we need to go back to special session for a litany of things,” Williams said.
Others want the state finance office to return the so-called “extra money” back to the agencies.
That could happen in mid-July.
“I think a special session is inappropriate. We don't need to pass laws to determine where this money is spent. We already did that in May of 2015,” Sparks said.
Some lawmakers told NewsChannel 4 they’d be in favor of a special session if it didn’t waste too much money to bring them back.
State finance officials emphasized that $166 million is the money we have as of today, but they pointed out there is still more than a week left in the fiscal year, so there’s not a firm number they’d give as to how much money exactly agencies would get back.
Governor Mary Fallin has not indicated whether she’s in favor of a special session.