Thursday, December 07, 2017

Fallin Sets 2nd Special Session Date for December 18th

Looks like Governor Fallin was dead-serious about putting the Legislature in session on Christmas. In order to pass any tax increases the Legislature would need to be in session for at least ten legislative days; even if the legislature met on Saturday and Sunday, the quickest they could be done would be the 27th of December.

Governor Mary Fallin Sets Second Special Session Date

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today set the date for lawmakers to return in special session to address the shortfall in the current fiscal year budget.

The governor set the beginning date of the second extraordinary session of the 56th Legislature to convene Monday, Dec. 18.

Fallin did not file an executive order, or an official call, for the special session. She will do that at a later date.

“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.”

The governor last month vetoed most of the revised budget bill approved by legislators in the special session. She kept intact parts of the bill that temporarily preserved funding for key health and human services until lawmakers return in another special session to approve long-term funding solutions.

She vetoed all but five of the 170 sections contained in the budget measure, saying it did not provide a long-term solution to the re-occurring budget deficits experienced by the state the past three years. The current 2018 fiscal year budget includes $509 million of one-time funds and future obligations of at least $180 million not included in the 2018 fiscal year budget, which combined results in a starting deficit of almost $700 million for the 2019 fiscal year.


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