State Auditor Questions Budget Numbers

Wednesday, May 25th 2016, 7:06 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

The State Legislature has a tentative agreement on a spending plan for 2017, but Wednesday it’s seeing a lot of criticism. 

Despite the 1.3 billion dollar budget deficit, core services like K-12 schools and health care were spared the brunt of the cuts. But not everyone is happy with the budget. 

Senator Susan Paddack (D) District 13 voted against the bill. 

“Did we do the very best job we could do for the people of Oklahoma? I think that we could have done a much better job,” said Paddack.

Budget backers say they did the best they could. 

“We have to make sure that Medicaid providers are taken care of,” said Senator Clark Jolley (R) District 41, “We have to make sure that common ED knows they're not going to have a deeper cut. We have to make sure that higher ED knows they're not going to keep having a target on their back.”

State Auditor Gary Jones called the figures “A lot of smoke and mirrors.” He said the budget numbers appear to be manipulated to show the cuts aren't as deep as they really are. 

“It's perplexing, their need to show that the cut is smaller than it is. It is what it is,” said Jones. “The numbers ought to be accurate. You ought to be able to look at it and any accountant ought to be able to pull those documents and say this is how much money went to the agency. And you can't do that.”

Jones said the way the budget is written it's difficult to know exactly what's being cut.  “The number one thing you've got to be is be realistic, be honest, be truthful,” said Jones. “And we're not.”

The budget proposal now heads over to the House of Representatives where we are told there are concerns about cuts to DHS. Assuming the deal passes it should be in front of the governor Friday.

5/25/16 Related Story: Education Held Flat In State Budget Proposal