Legislature Questions Whether Budget Veto Is Constitutional
OKLAHOMA CITY - After nearly two months of special session to fill a $215-million budget hole, Governor Mary Fallin vetoed most of a budget plan with no warning. Now, lawmakers wonder what their next move will be; when the governor might call them back into session; and whether her veto is constitutional.
The vetoed budget continues funding for three health agencies. That means those massive cuts we were warned about won’t happen. But, there are also questions about whether what she did was constitutional.
Life is good for Tabatha Hernandez. But it wasn’t always this way. She lost custody of three of her children because of a drug addiction. She admits she came close to abusing her youngest son, Christian.
“There’s times that I have just wanted to just throw him across the room. Just grab him,” said Hernandez.
That’s when Parent Promise stepped in. The agency helps people like Hernandez control their temper, and stops child abuse before it starts. But under the governor’s vetoes, Parent Promise is losing its state funding. Also, other child abuse interdiction agencies will too.
“There were nine of us service providers and really there’s only about three of us that are able to continue,” said Sherry Fair, CEO of Parent Promise.
On Friday, in a surprise move, the governor vetoed much of the budget lawmakers had agreed on.
“Without any notice, we were not notified ahead of time, the governor vetoed the budget that was sent to her,” said Representative Jon Echols (R) Majority Floor Leader.
The governor won’t answer our questions on camera, and won’t open up dialog with the legislature about another special session.
“I have not been contacted by the governors’ office with any indication of when that will be. And to my knowledge no one in house leadership has been,” said Echols.
Echols said the governor transferred $50-million from the Department of Roads and Bridges to send to the Department of Health.
That’s after the legislature gave the Department of Health another $30-million, because the agency misappropriated that money and maybe more.
“I’m hearing the number could be as high as 100-million dollars,” said Echols.
Echols said the governor’s veto means the state budget is not balanced and remains about $110-million short.