Questions Of Constitutionality Surround New Oklahoma Budget
OKLAHOMA CITY - On Wednesday, Gov. Mary Fallin signed the state’s $6.8 billion budget, passed at the 11th hour last week. However, the state's budget woes are far from over.
Some lawmakers and political groups are raising concerns over some of the revenue raising measure.
In a series of late night negotiations legislators hammered out the details in the final days of May. The budget will fund the state with deep cuts to agencies to make up for a near $1 billion budget hole.
Eventually, by performing rhetorical gymnastics, lawmakers resorted to fees or credit rollbacks to raise revenue instead of passing taxes. Some at the capitol are beginning to see a problem. Critics say the budget may not be constitutional.
Writing on Twitter during one of those late-night budget talks was Rep. Jason Dunnington (D-Oklahoma City) saying:
According to the Oklahoma constitution, no revenue bill can be passed in the last five days of session. The provision was written with the goal of protecting voters from last minute tax hikes. Instead lawmakers approved millions of dollars to be raised. That could mean lawmakers broke their promise to voters.
“It's up to the people at the Supreme Court in Oklahoma to decide if those measures will pass constitutional muster,” Rep. Leslie Osborne (R-Mustang) said on News9/Newson6 “Your Vote Counts with Scott Mitchell.”
Decisions experts say may not work in the budget's favor.
“We'll see what the court does,” Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs President, Jonathan Small said in reference to the budget measures. “I think that there's a good indication that there could be some of them the Supreme Court says don't pass muster.”
If portions of the budget are deemed unconstitutional, Fallin could be forced to call lawmakers back in the fall for a special session.