OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin has announced the date for the next special session.
Lawmakers will return in special session to address the shortfall in the current fiscal year budget on Monday, December 18.
Fallin did not file an executive order, or an official call, for the special session. “She will do that at a later date,” a release states.
“Discussions are continuing with legislators and Oklahomans in all types of professions from across the state on a long-term, predictable solution to fix our budget and fund core services. Budget plan estimates are being developed on various revenue proposals. Instead of waiting for final details, I wanted to give legislators enough notice as possible about when they should return to the Capitol.
This will also give us time to get the latest revenue estimates for the upcoming 2019 fiscal year. A preliminary estimate of available funds for legislative appropriation will be available that week for the Dec. 20 meeting of the Board of Equalization. I am hopeful the estimate will show revenue growth for the 2019 fiscal year. But even if it does, there will be a need for additional revenue to address the combination of one-time funds currently in the budget, the current fiscal year shortfall from the loss of cigarette fee revenue, spending obligations for 2019, and money to give our teachers and state employees a much-needed pay raise. These items taken together will approach close to $800 million.
As I travel across the state I see signs of positive economic activity, and I believe the future looks bright for the state. However, I expect any additional growth in revenue coming to the state treasury will not be enough to put us on the stable foundation we want to see and give teachers a raise. In recent years, we have patched over our problems by using one-time money that, in effect, borrows from Peter to pay Paul. We know we still have a budget hole for this fiscal year of about $111 million from the loss of cigarette fee revenue that will result in cuts that the Health Care Authority will need to make starting January 1 and the Department of Human Services by February 1 if we don’t identify more funding.
Before the session begins, I intend to make specific recommendations on how we can balance the budget and meet our immediate needs. I’ll be working with legislative leaders and others with the goal of having at least the outline of an agreement ready for legislators later this month.”
Last month, Governor Fallin vetoed most of the revised budget bill.
She vetoed all but five of the 170 sections contained in the House Bill 1019X, that was passed by the Senate by a vote of 29 to 14.
“House Bill 1019X does not provide a long-term solution to the re-occurring budget deficits, and within three months we will come back facing an estimated $600 million shortfall,” Fallin said after her veto. “My action avoids immediate health and human services cuts and provides time for legislators to come back and approve revenue proposals that can provide a permanent fix.”
The current 2018 fiscal year budget includes $509 million of one-time funds and future obligations of at least $180 million not included in the 2018 fiscal year budget, which combined results in a starting deficit of almost $700 million for the 2019 fiscal year.
House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) released a statement following Governor Fallin’s announcement for the second special session Wednesday evening saying:
“We are in this situation because the governor vetoed a compromise bill that would have funded our healthcare programs through the fiscal year without cutting those vital services. Her veto has put those healthcare programs that Oklahomans rely on in a very precarious position and created uncertainty for healthcare providers and citizens. Had she signed the bill, as she promised the House and Senate she would do, these additional revenue issues could have been addressed during the upcoming regular session.
Once again, the governor has called us back into special session without a plan in place, which means more taxpayer dollars will be wasted. This additional special session could have been avoided if the governor had kept her word.”