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State House Passes 2018 Budget

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

The State House of Representatives closed the books on fiscal year 2018 with cuts to all state agencies. 

This is a year most lawmakers would rather just forget. It included almost constant partisan bickering over tax increases, a tobacco tax that was deemed unconstitutional, broken promises of raises for teachers, two special sessions, and a veto by the governor.

Finally, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Members House Bill 1020 XX is the general appropriation bill that brings into balance the FY 18 budget,” said Representative Kevin Wallace (R) Budget and Appropriations Chair.

“There were no additional monies available so today we used some of the cash that was on hand, we had about $20-million in cuts across all state agencies,” said Representative Jon Echols Majority Floor leader.

Representatives also voted to use another $31-million in carry-over funds to pay for the state’s graduate medical schools after a dispute with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services over a Medicaid waiver. That will cost the state $31.5 million in FTY 2018.

The problem gets even worse in fiscal year 2019, when the state will need an additional $110-million or the medical colleges will lose accreditation.

The silver lining: The Board of Equalization, which estimates tax revenues, is expected to release good news.

“The Board of Equalization is going to show a surplus. We’re going to have additional monies going into the Rainy Day fund. They will not have the ability to do things like a teacher pay raise. That will not exist, but I do think we will have the ability to balance our budget,” Echols said.

The State Senate will now take up the 2018-budget bill where it is expected to pass.

Read Related Story: State Democrats Throw Support Behind New Budget Proposal

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