Oklahoma House passes 'cash and cuts' budget bill

(KOKH/Scott Noland)

The Oklahoma House has passed a budget bill that would make cuts to state agencies and pull cash from several funds.

Lawmakers in the House took up HB 1019X after going into session at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The bill puts cuts of approximately 2.5 percent to most state agencies and will use $23 million from the Rainy Day fund, $23 million in carryover funds and $60 million in revolving funds to fill the rest of the bill. Committees in both the House and Senate approved the bill Tuesday.

After a lengthy debate, the bill passed with a 56-38 vote. The bill only needed a simple majority to pass because it isn't considered a revenue raising measure. It now heads to the Senate.

Related: Governor Fallin on budget bill: 'This is not what I want'

Watch the House debate the bill below:

The House then passed HB 1028X which directs the State Department of Health to submit a corrective action report to be submitted to the Oklahoma Legislature by Jan. 1. The bill comes in the wake of furloughs due to alleged financial mismanagement at the department. The head of the department and several others have lost or resigned from the positions following the revelations.

Also passing through the House Wednesday was HB 1027X. The bill blocks the Department of Public Safety from cutting trooper salaries or imposing mileage limits.

The House Democratic Caucus released the following statement on the passage of the budget bill:

“Today's passage of the revised general appropriations bill, House Bill 1019, reflects a failure of the Republican majority to listen to their constituents, invest in the state’s future, and uphold their commitment to continue services for our most vulnerable populations. The measure cuts nearly 50 agencies an average of 2.5 percent with only seven months left in the fiscal year. All of these cuts will come from remaining funding effectively doubling the percentage cut.

Because this budget relies so heavily on one-time funding, including the raiding of several agency revolving funds and draining the state's savings account, House Republicans have once again guaranteed a budget shortfall for the next legislative session.

Republican leadership has thrown up their hands and claimed this budget is the only option. This is patently false. They have refused to bring up several recurring revenue measures that only require 51 votes, including capping the itemized deduction and eliminating the capital gains exemption.

Additionally, Republican leadership team failed on their promise to bring 75 percent of their caucus in support of a recurring revenue package that included a modest increase in the gross production tax.

After two months of games, the Republican majority has passed the budget they had long intended; one that blindly cuts funding from agencies without consideration of the effects of those cuts. It has become painfully obvious that Republicans at the State Capitol never intended to solve the budget crisis during this special session. For seven weeks, House Republican leadership has given false hope to state employees, teachers, seniors, and many other groups desperate for stability and much-deserved pay raises. By the former Appropriation & Budget Chair's own admission, this entire special session has been orchestrated to lead to this very outcome.

House Democrats will continue to fight for responsible, equitable, and stable revenue raising measures that will put our state on a more solid fiscal path going forward, including the revenue measures referenced above, a restoration of income tax cuts for high earners, and a restoration of the gross production tax cuts that have made Oklahoma's rate the lowest in the nation.”

Lawmakers are in their eighth week of a special session called to fill a $215 million hole in the state's budget.

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