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Lawmaker Alleges Budget Plan's Failure Was 'Orchestrated'

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House and Senate committees have passed a bill that will patch the state’s budget hole. But the move leaves the state with less cash going into next year. House and Senate committees have passed a bill that will patch the state’s budget hole. But the move leaves the state with less cash going into next year.

House Democrats are crying foul after a Republican colleague alleged the failure of a recent bipartisan budget fix failed because it was designed to do so last week. 

In Tuesday’s House budget committee meeting, Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, argued against the latest “cash and cuts” budget plan saying a recent plan, which included an increase on the gross production tax on oil and gas from new wells, was “orchestrated” to fail by House Republican leadership.

“If anyone thinks this is the only vote we have because it went down, have no mistake that it was orchestrated and done in advance and we all know that,” Osborn told committee members. 

Her comments were seized on by Democrats who raised their ire on social media. 

Writing on Twitter, Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, said “Time to ask House Leadership: if this was the plan all along, why drag special session out for 8 weeks, pretending real work was being done?”

The special session is currently in its eighth week. Each day costs tax payers roughly $30,000 bringing total estimates close to $470,000.

On Facebook, Norman Democrat Emily Virgin praised Osborn’s comment calling it “courageous.” Virgin said she’d be voting against the new budget plan when it came to the House floor. 

“House Republican leaders ensured the failure of each revenue package, and thereby given teachers, state employees, seniors and so many others…” Virgin wrote. “[Wednesday] they will throw up their hands and claim [the new plan] is the only option.’"

The comments have renewed questions about an incident during the vote last week in which Republican lawmakers appeared to be holding a caucus during the vote. Questions about the meeting of lawmakers were dismissed during that voting period. 

The latest budget plan, which is expected to be heard on the House floor Wednesday, includes cuts to 49 state agencies and money from agency revolving funds. It also includes money originally marked for road and bridge repairs as well as millions of dollars from a previously passed tax on so-called “legacy” oil and gas wells.

Because the measure does not include a new revenue raising measure the measure can be passed with a simple majority, allowing Republicans to pass the vote without their Democratic colleagues.

Both the Speaker of the House, Charles McCall, R-Atoka, and Majority Leader Job Echols, R-Oklahoma City, voted in favor of the measure last week, which seems to contradict Osborn’s claim. McCall’s office did not immediately return question for a comment Wednesday morning.

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