OKLAHOMA CITY – A day after the house of representatives failed to reach enough votes for a revenue package to address part of the state’s budget hole and fund state services, a Rush Springs woman with a disabled son wanted to know why.
Rebecca Jones, 40, took the day off Thursday to spend several hours tracking down some of the 27 legislators that voted against HB 1054X, which would have increased taxes on motor fuel, cigarettes and tobacco products, alcohol, and oil and gas wells.
Called the “Grand Bargain” by some in capitol hallways, it would have addressed a part of the $215 million budget shortfall, as well as funding a teacher and public employee pay raise, and earned income tax credits.
Last summer, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled a cigarette “fee” unconstitutional. Since, state agencies have been bracing service recipients for potential cuts if legislators couldn’t figure out a funding solution.
“It’s frustrating to hear everything is roses on one side and then on the other side, it’s doomsday. And we’re still stuck here in the middle and I’m not sure how to feel,” said Jones after she and her son, Rylan, met with a representative.
“I’m still scared for my son.”
Rylan is 19-years-old and has a form of cerebral palsy, and qualifies for a DHS waiver program that could be cut if possible cuts go through.
“We made it here at 11:00. We were able to visit with (Rep. Mark) McBride, he then called (Rep. Kevin) Calvey. Representative Cleveland wheeled by briefly and gave his two cents.”
More than anything, Jones is searching for some sort of answer from the representatives who voted “no.”
“We’re concerned, we’re worried,” Jones said as she met with Rep. Shane Stone, D-Oklahoma City. “My son is the client of the Goodwill adult day center in Chickasha, and our understanding is that without a fix on this current budget crisis is that it will close. They will not be able to keep their doors open and there’s nothing else for my kiddo.”
As she walked the hallways late Thursday afternoon, she hoped the legislators she talked with would understand and maybe change their “no” to a “yes.”
“I wish that I could walk away from here and say we got this. They’re not going to vote yes on this bill from (Wednesday). It’s just not going to happen,” said Jones.
“Until we know that these programs are funded, we won’t back off, we’ll continue with our campaign. We can’t let these guys slip through the cracks.”