OK Lawmakers Not Close To Bridging Budget Gap

Thursday, March 24th 2016, 3:34 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

Week eight of the state legislative session has wrapped up with lawmakers going home after nothing toward bridging the state’s $1.3 billion budget deficit. 

“The legislature in its infinite wisdom has decided to go home and do something else this particular day at a time when the budget crisis only gets worse,” said Scott Inman (D) House Minority Leader

Legislators only put in a three-day work week while the massive budget deficit looms with no solution in sight. 

“Honestly, I can’t tell you anything right now that I actually know we can agree upon,” said Senator Brian Bingman (R) Senate Majority Leader.

Inman agreed. 

“We’re now eight weeks in and not one piece of legislation to solve the budgetary crisis that’s facing the people of Oklahoma has been put before the House of Representatives,” he said. 

The governor, Bingman said, is telling state agencies to expect up to 15-percent cuts across the board.

The legislature did spend a lot of time this week debating education standards, an alternative to common core. Senator Clark Jolley offered a resolution that would keep the legislature out of the decision making in the future. 

“We do not need to be in the business of doing this as a legislature,” Jolley said.

But in the end, the legislature did not act and the recommended standards will be implemented as is. 

The governor, meanwhile, did sign off on a deal to dip into the rainy day fund to pay for prisons and schools. Democrats say big deal. 

“Look how wonderful we are because we got $51 million to spend on public education” Inman mocked, “Somehow that makes them the savories of public schools. Make no mistake about it. Since January 1 our public school system has lost $109 million.”

And with just eight weeks to go till the end of the legislative session, Inman said, “This building lacks leadership and if we’re going to solve the problems facing Oklahoma in the next eight weeks, it’s gonna’ take a real change in behavior from the folks who currently run the show.”

The legislature reconvenes Monday.