House, Senate Committees Pass Budget Bill

Tuesday, November 14th 2017, 7:22 pm

House and Senate committees have passed a bill that will patch the state’s budget hole. But the move leaves the state with less cash going into next year. 

The plan includes cutting $ 60-million to 49-agencies, but leaves 12 core agencies: The State Department of Education, Department of Corrections, Indigent Defense System, Medical Examiner, Court of Criminal Appeals, Health Department, Department of Rehabilitation Services, School of Science and Math, Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission, Tax Commission, State Election Board and Commissioners of the Land Office, at current funding levels.

11/13/17 Related Story: Senate Leaders Say Agreement Reached On State Budget Deficit

Most other agencies will see cuts around 2.4-percent.

Opponents say the state should look at other revenue sources before making cuts.

“There are a lot of other things to vote on that could bring us revenue so that we don’t have to continue these draconian cuts to our agencies,” said Representative Jason Dunnington (D) District 88.

Representative Leslie Osborn (R) District 47 added, “We are at a true precipice in our state where jobs will not stay because there will be no quality of life.”

Backers say we shouldn’t cut services when we have the money to pay for them.

“I personally can’t in good conscience leave cash in the bank and look at my constituents and tell them I’m cancelling their adult daycare, I’m cancelling their advantage waiver services, I’m cancelling their in-home services.  Because that is the result,” said Representative Jon Echols (R) House Floor Leader.

There were also concerns about where spending money now, would leave us next year.

“We’re going to begin February with a minimum $500-million deficit and no other revolving funds and nowhere to get cash. Am I correct?” asked Senator Roger Thompson (R) Caucus Vice Chair.

“It’s going to be tough come February,” replied Senator Kim David (R) Appropriations Chair.

The full House and Senate will now take up the bill. If it passes it could go to the governor as early as Friday.