Gov. Fallin calls for legislators to fix budget as house adjourns for weekend

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A day after Governor Mary Fallin called on legislators to fix the state's budget with a budget deadline looming, any work at the hands of the house won't happen until next week.

With the state facing a $878 million budget shortfall, the joint committee on appropriations and budget was cancelled and the house adjourned for the weekend Thursday morning. It didn't take long for the political finger-pointing to take to Twitter.

Democratic State Rep. Jason Dunnington tweeting, "It's 10:55am and the OkHouse just adjourned for the weekend. No budget, no revenue, no bipartisan meetings, no leadership. #ClockTicking."

The twitter sphere sniping also coming from the majority party. Governor Fallin followed in similar fashion, calling out the house for adjourning, with the House GOP replying "The speaker didn't see the governor's car in the parking lot when he left at midnight."

While it's not uncommon for the legislature to adjourn and return to their districts on Thursdays, time continues to tick away until the deadline for a budget bill to be passed and signed into law.

Nearly all of the representatives were gone from the capitol Thursday afternoon, with the exception of some staff keeping the doors open and manning the phones.

Some representatives had been gone for hours -- others were missed by minutes. Two representatives that were still in the building when I came knocking were Democratic State Representatives Regina Goodwin and George Young.

"We're the ones who are stopping the progress?" posited Young, who represented Oklahoma City's 99th District. "That really doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to me. And they have not even presented anything to us that we can reject."

After chastising both sides for playing partisan politics during a press conference Wednesday, Fallin called out legislators for adjourning when a budget deal needs to be reached.

"Do you want to be seeing legislators doing more than going back to their districts?" I asked Fallin Thursday afternoon.

"I think we shouldn't be going home on Fridays, with the legislature," she said. "I think we should be working; finding a solution to our problem."

Young, Goodwin -- as well as House Democratic leadership -- are adamant about increasing the state's oil and gas gross production tax back up to 2014 levels.

Republicans have proposed raising cigarette and motor fuel taxes; a motor fuel tax that Democrats balk at. The bill, HB 2365, has yet to make it to the floor for a vote.

Fallin, again on Friday, called on legislators to find courage and put forward solutions, as she did with her own budget plan several months ago.

"I think I showed my courage when I gave my State of the State speech back in February," Fallin said.

"But do you have the courage to raise the gross production tax?" I asked.

"I've said I'd be happy to look at any different issue, but I need them to come along, too."

The governor says she will veto a budget that doesn't fund the state's core services and bring legislators back to the capitol to get a deal done and fund the state's core services. But that, too, would cost more money.

House leadership says to expect activity at the capitol next week. The house will start back up Monday afternoon.

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