More funds needed for payroll at Oklahoma Health Department

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OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma Department of Health spokesman says the financially troubled agency does not have enough money to pay its employees beyond November.

Spokesman Tony Sellars made the comments Wednesday as state lawmakers debate legislation that would appropriate an emergency $30 million to the Health Department while cutting the budgets of other state agencies and raiding several government accounts.

Lawmakers are in the eighth week of a special legislative session to try to fill a $215 million shortfall in the state’s budget.

State auditors are performing an investigative audit of the Health Department due to financial concerns that prompted the resignation of Oklahoma Health Commissioner Terry Cline last month.

Previous state audits have indicated that the agency shifted some federal funds into programs the money was never intended to fund.

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