Group asks Oklahoma Supreme Court to step in to decide how $140 million is spent

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OKLAHOMA COUNTY, Okla. - After millions of dollars were mistakenly cut from state agencies last fiscal year, six people have filed a 'writ of mandamus' against a pair of Oklahoma leaders.

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.

In July, 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.

On Tuesday, six people filed a 'writ of mandamus' against Gov. Mary Fallin and Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger.

It is an order that requests the Oklahoma Supreme Court to step in to make sure the money is not used for teacher pay raises.

Instead, the group is asking that it be evenly allocated to all state agencies that suffered budget cuts last year.

Officials say the six filers were all affected by agency cuts in different ways.

Carrol Stanley, one of the plaintiffs, has worked as a foster mom for decades.

"I love education, I think it's wonderful," she said. "But you know what? We have to divide it up equally like it should have been."

The suit was filed by attorney David Slane, who's working on the case pro bono.

"This $140-million lays there, ready to be appropriated, and should've been appropriated," said Slane.

Gov. Fallin did not have a comment on the order.

Ryan Owens, executive director of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, released the following statement:

“Our organization supports the efforts of Mr. Slane. The lives of many Oklahomans were forever affected due to the cuts made during the previous fiscal year. Students missed opportunities as programs were cut and educators lost their jobs, burdens increased in many departments including Corrections and Health, and many of our most vulnerable citizens lost access to critical services.

Last month we alerted our members to the legally questionable actions of the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) and requested that the $140+ million overage of state general revenue funds, resulting from OMES cutting more than required by law, be returned to state agencies rather than being re-appropriated for a teacher pay raise.

Allowing the Legislature to reconvene in special session for the purpose of reallocating funds which were unlawfully reduced establishes a dangerous precedent. These funds were already appropriated by the Legislature to specific entities and for specific purposes.

There is still time to do the right thing. We respectfully request that OMES return the $140+ million to the agencies from which those funds were cut.”