Governor sets second special session date, but no official call yet

Posted on: 12/13/17


Gov. Mary Fallin last week set the date for lawmakers to return in special session to address the shortfall in the current fiscal year budget, but has not yet filed an executive order, or an official call. She announced the beginning date to convene Monday, Dec. 18.

“Discussions are continuing with legislators and Oklahomans in all types of professions from across the state on a long-term, predictable solution to fix our budget and fund core services,” said Fallin. “Budget plan estimates are being developed on various revenue proposals. Instead of waiting for final details, I wanted to give legislators enough notice as possible about when they should return to the Capitol.

“This will also give us time to get the latest revenue estimates for the upcoming 2019 fiscal year. A preliminary estimate of available funds for legislative appropriation will be available that week for the Dec. 20 meeting of the Board of Equalization. I am hopeful the estimate will show revenue growth for the 2019 fiscal year. But even if it does, there will be a need for additional revenue to address the combination of one-time funds currently in the budget, the current fiscal year shortfall from the loss of cigarette fee revenue, spending obligations for 2019, and money to give our teachers and state employees a much-needed pay raise. These items taken together will approach close to $800 million.

“As I travel across the state I see signs of positive economic activity, and I believe the future looks bright for the state,” the governor said. “However, I expect any additional growth in revenue coming to the state treasury will not be enough to put us on the stable foundation we want to see and give teachers a raise. In recent years, we have patched over our problems by using one-time money that, in effect, borrows from Peter to pay Paul. We know we still have a budget hole for this fiscal year of about $111 million from the loss of cigarette fee revenue that will result in cuts that the Health Care Authority will need to make starting January 1 and the Department of Human Services by February 1 if we don’t identify more funding.

“Before the session begins, I intend to make specific recommendations on how we can balance the budget and meet our immediate needs. I’ll be working with legislative leaders and others with the goal of having at least the outline of an agreement ready for legislators later this month.”

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