Friday evening, Governor Mary Fallin's office announced she has vetoed most of the revised budget bill approved by legislators.
According to the press release, Fallin says she will keep intact the parts of the bill that temporarily preserves funding for health and human services until lawmakers return in another special session to approve long-term solutions.
Ultimately, the governor vetoed all but five of the 170 sections which was passed by lawmakers Friday afternoon.
“House Bill 1019X does not provide a long-term solution to the re-occurring budget deficits, and within three months we will come back facing an estimated $600 million shortfall,” said Gov. Fallin.
Fallin said her actions provide the Department of Mental Health and Substances Abuse Services, the Department of Humans Services (DHS) and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority short-term funding. All of these agencies were facing cuts under the budget bill.
Fallin also said she vetoed the bill because it was close to using most of the state's one-time funds including the rainy-day fund. And now, state agencies will not see a $60-million in cuts.
The release ended in this statement:
“Our inability to find a long-term solution to our budget problem puts our citizens and our economy at risk,” said Fallin. “We cannot give up. We must find solutions. Our citizens want a state government that works for them. They are tired of gamesmanship and want leadership. As difficult as it might be to return to the state Capitol, we must do so. As governor, I pledge, as I have done throughout this difficult period, to work with the Legislature. We came so close, with over 70 percent of the House and over 75 percent of the Senate voting for a viable budget plan.
“Some legislative leaders have stated that revenue measures will be taken up in February when lawmakers return in regular session,” Fallin said. “But I am very skeptical because next year is an election year and the pressure not to do anything will be greater.
“We must find sustainable, predictable recurring revenue to fund our core services and get us out of the constant crisis. Let’s finish our work for the sake of our great state and our hardworking people. I love this state and her people, and I will continue to work tirelessly with the Legislature for them.”
OKCPS Superintendent Aurora Lora sent the following statement regarding the governor’s budget veto.
“Thank you, Governor Fallin, for your leadership in holding the legislature accountable for finding real solutions to our state’s revenue crisis. After years of budget shortfalls, our legislators who have thus far been unwilling to join a compromise must stop passing the buck and balancing the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens. Our teachers and school children cannot thrive in constant fear of budget cuts and scarcity. We must have a sustainable path forward to build Oklahoma’s future.”
However, Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, R-Altus sent the following statement disagreeing with the Governor's decision.
"We are surprised by the governor’s veto. The governor’s office was involved in the negotiation of the revised budget agreement, but did not indicate the agreement was insufficient and would be vetoed. The revised budget agreement was not the Senate’s first choice to resolve the budget crisis but it was the only option after the House showed it was not able to meet the constitutional standards of raising revenue. Bringing the Legislature back into special session at this point seems like a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. The governor’s veto doesn’t help Oklahoma thrive, it only serves to throw our budget further into chaos.”
Some legislators took to social media after the announcement.
I applaud Gov. Fallin’s action on this short-sighted bill that cut several agencies and her call for long-term solutions. House Dems stand ready to approve a responsible and equitable recurring revenue package. https://t.co/AMqO1JbGrS— Emily Virgin (@EmilyVirginOK) November 18, 2017