The 2017 Oklahoma Legislature’s special session has failed yet again to find a revenue-based solution to the $215 million budget hole. Now, lawmakers are likely to consider a “cash and cuts” or “slash and dash” approach to addressing state government’s major wound.
Entering its eighth week of special session, a weary Legislature appears to be resigned to the reality that finding agreement on new recurring revenue sources is simply impossible under the present circumstances.
So what options are left before services for the elderly, the disabled and those receiving mental health assistance begin taking major reductions effective Dec. 1?
A Band-Aid. An insultingly inadequate patchwork raid of the state’s meager savings accounts that would only sustain these vital services for a few months.
Yet nothing is certain. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has threatened to veto any budget measure sent to her by the House and Senate that doesn’t include new recurring revenue.
“For decades, we have attempted to balance our budget for too long with the use of one-time resources. We must develop a budget based on stability, not volatility,” she said in her call for a special session.
Meanwhile, thousands of Oklahomans are deeply anxious about the ticking clock that strikes midnight Dec. 1. The situation is so grave now that even the possibility of an infusion of short-term, inadequate revenue could be regarded as a highlight of this so-called “special” session. But, make no mistake: It would be a Band-Aid — a pathetically minuscule answer for a patient that is close to flatlining.
Is this the new Oklahoma (sub)Standard?
(Editor’s note: The above cartoon was drawn by OKC artist and NonDoc contributor Jack Fowler, and this series is sponsored by Let’s Fix This, a nonpartisan and nonprofit advocacy organization that encourages citizens to learn about their government and meet their elected officials.)