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Following Fallin’s veto, DHS announces no program cuts for now

OKLAHOMA CITY – One state agency is breathing a sigh of relief after learning that it will not have to reduce or eliminate programs that serve Oklahomans across the state.

As lawmakers began to meet in special session, many state agencies were concerned about what a new budget would mean for their funding.

On Friday, Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed all but five of the 170 sections in a budget bill passed by the House and Senate. House Bill 1019X would have used millions in Rainy Day funds, carryover cash and revolving money while cutting about $60 million from state agencies.

The veto did away with the $60 million hit to state agencies and the use of revolving funds, but we’re told it provides short-term funding for three healthcare agencies: the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Department of Human Services, and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. They were expected to lose between $4-$15 million.

“Those agencies, which is the Department of Mental Health Substance Abuse, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Healthcare Authority, they were facing cuts unless we passed something this session will now have the ability to keep going for several more months,” Fallin said in a video posted to Facebook.

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services announced that it will not have to reduce or eliminate service programs for seniors and people with disabilities on Dec. 1 and Jan. 1 as previously planned.

“This funding allows us to stop these devastating cuts and continue providing critical services beyond December 1; however, we are still $42 million short of a balanced budget,” said DHS Director Ed Lake. “We will be working closely with the administration and legislative leaders in the upcoming weeks as they work to develop funding solutions for these services.

At the moment, agency officials say the Advantage Waiver program, Adult Day Services, Developmental Disabilities Services Adult In-Home Support Waiver, DDS Sheltered Workshop and Community Integrated Employment programs are safe.

However, they warn that they will need to determine exactly how long the agency can sustain those programs with the current funding.