Multi-billion dollar budget bill headed to Gov. Fallin’s desk

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- A multi-billion budget bill is heading to the governor's desk after passing the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Touted as the state's largest budget, SB 1600 appropriates more than $7.5 billion to state agencies. It passed the Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday before passing the Oklahoma House by a vote of 63-31 on Friday.

"In all honesty, there’s no such thing as a perfect budget but I want to tell you this is a really good budget. It’s the best budget I’ve seen since I’ve been here," said budget chairman Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston.

Under SB1600, no agency will face cuts. The bill appropriates the following:

  • Common education: $2.9 billion
  • Healthcare Authority: $1.1 billion
  • DHS: $729 million
  • Dept. of Corrections: $517 million.

Despite passing, the bill came with plenty of debate on the House floor on Friday.

Rep. Scott Inman, D-Del City, questioned whether the money appropriated for education took inflation into account.

"Isn’t it about 32 million below when adjusted for inflation where our numbers were in 2009?" questioned Rep. Inman.

Some Democrats questioned whether more could be done.

"It’s a slap in the face of Oklahoma that we would go home after doing step one and say, 'Well, I’m so sorry. My hands are tied. We can’t do anything more.' We are literally the only people can do more," argued Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-Oklahoma City.

Voting in his last budget, Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, debated in favor of SB 1600.

"This isn’t the best budget and every one of you would have written it a different way," Rep. Sears told House members. "But you have a constitutional responsibility today to run this great state and you have a budget before you that does run this state."

Other supporters of the bill agreed the bill was not perfect, but it was the best the state could do with what they had.

"There are things about this that we’ve never seen before. This is the highest budget we’ve ever had in the state and for education," said Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell.
Senate leadership says they plan to wrap up their work for this session by next Thursday.
"Time is running short and we have very few things to keep us here after we pass the budget," Senate Majority Floor Leader Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, said.
Both the House and Senate are adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday.
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