Capitol Week In Review: Back To The Drawing Board

Friday, November 24th 2017, 2:59 pm

After two months of political wrangling in special session, lawmakers thought they had found a budget solution everyone would be happy with.

The governor watched as senators passed the $215-million spending plan. Then she vetoed much of it, except funding for critical health services. 

"Without any notice, we were not notified ahead of time. The governor vetoed the budget that was sent to her," said Rep. Jon Echols, R-Majority Floor Leader.

The bill leaves the budget about $110-million short, but keeps emergency funding for the department of health after the agency misappropriated at least $30-millio. 

"I’m hearing the number could be as high as $100-million," Echols said.

Gov. Mary Fallin also announced three executive orders. Two of those orders would require education and higher education to look at ways of consolidating to cut administrative costs. The third caps so-called “swag” spending; that is spending on things like coffee mugs and bumper stickers, at $10-million. 

The current “swag” budget is $30-million a year.

"What I hope to do is give the next governor a good opportunity with a plan that they can take or not,” Fallin said during a press conference. “But the work will all be done for them."

Lawmakers also looked at ways of saving cash. Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, is pushing a bill that would eliminate money for state agencies to hire lobbyists. 

"We've got all these lobbyists that I bet taxpayers don't even realize that their money is going to pay lobbyists asking us as their elected representative to give whoever they're working for more money,” Standridge said. “It's just nonsensical."

The money saved, Standridge says, could be used to hire auditors for every state agency. 

Fallin is expected to announce next week when she will call lawmakers back for a second special session.


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