OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin issued an executive order formally calling for a second special session of the Oklahoma Legislature.
Lawmakers will address immediate budget issues facing the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority, which oversees Oklahoma’s Medicaid program called Soonercare, while continuing negotiations on long-term budget solutions.
The governor recommended lawmakers address funding the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority to “avoid provider rate cuts for the current fiscal year,” which ends June 30.
The Oklahoma Healthcare Authority lost $70 million when a $1.50-per-pack cigarette fee was ruled unconstitutional by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
A budget bill in November restored $22.8 million for the authority.
Governor Fallin vetoed “most of the revised” budget bill, HB1019X.
“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 in November. “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.”
Fallin and lawmakers “will continue to work on an Oklahoma plan during the special session for a long-term solution to budget deficits experienced by the state the past few years.”
“This week’s discussions with a bipartisan group of legislative leaders along with community leaders’ input, it was determined we need more time to work toward a long-term, predictable solution to fix our budget problems,” said Fallin. “For next week, immediate attention must be given to the funding situation at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. It’s difficult to restore cuts in provider rates once they are made.”
Fallin said she will continue to push for a pay raise for teachers and state employees.
“We must find sustainable, predictable recurring revenue to fund our core services and get us out of the constant crisis,” she said.
Fallin called for the second special session of the 56th Legislature to convene on December 18.