Oklahoma House, Senate members convene amid ongoing budget talks

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OKLAHOMA CITY - House and Senate members convened Monday afternoon amid ongoing budget talks.

Last week, the Oklahoma Senate adjourned until there was "some movement" in negotiations Senate Majority leader Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City told reporters. Recently, the Senate passed legislation that would allocate $23 million from the state's rainy day funds to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS). This was part of a series of bills first passed in the House that would send money to three state agencies heaviest impacted should a solution not be found:

  • 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.

Discussions on legislation for Oklahoma Health Care Authority and DHS funding have not picked up on the full Senate floor yet.

"We don’t want to come in and spend tax payer money on session unless we’re also moving on the central part of the reason we’re here and the budget hole," Treat told reporters in a past interview.

Speaking to reporters Monday, House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka said the House had closed about 70 percent of the $215 million budget hole and called on the Senate to take up the appropriated $106 million in existing cash to the three agencies.

"We have the ability and the the vehicles in place to make that happen this week. We need to move those fully through the process," McCall said.

Representative Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa told News 4 lawmakers needed to turn their attention to measures that would pass both chambers.

"It’s my opinion... not speaking for anyone other than myself... that the Senate needs to take up what measures they can," Proctor said. "We need to agree on things we can agree on, and this special session needs to come to an end if there’s not going to be a bipartisan agreement, which to me, it doesn’t look like there’s going to be."

Governor Mary Fallin announced early Monday evening she had signed the emergency measure allocating $23 million to ODMHSAS.

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