The Oklahoma Legislature is expected to hear its FY 2019 budget bill in joint appropriations committees Tuesday, putting the body on track to pass next year’s state budget roughly four weeks ahead of deadline.
SB 1600 (embedded below) was released early Monday evening, hours after images of a working budget document had begun circulating the Capitol.
“For the FY 19 appropriations for the agencies, there will be no cuts in this budget,” House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget Chairman Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston) said. “This is a great budget. This is the first time since I’ve been here that we’re not arguing about who we are cutting to balance the budget. There’s no such thing as a perfect budget, but I think when this is introduced and people have a chance to look at it, most will be very satisfied.”
Wallace praised the 19.8 percent increase for common education funding as well as apparent hikes to funding for the Oklahoma State Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and other agencies. Wallace noted that most agencies will see net increases from last year to this year owing to the public-employee-raise package the Legislature passed at the end of March.
But Rep. Eric Proctor (D-Tulsa) called any claim that the FY 2019 budget bill represents agency-funding increases “disingenuous.”
“It is misrepresenting the truth. It is trying to imply that we are increasing agencies when, in fact, it’s not the case,” Proctor said. “They’ve went back and said, ‘We are giving increases to agencies,’ since — because we’ve cut the budget since the last budget — we are increasing.”
House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols (R-OKC) said the FY 2019 budget bill represents a positive step forward for education and other core areas of government.
“I’m excited to show what we have been saying for weeks — that the 20 percent increase in education funding would not come at the expense of other state agencies,” Echols said. “It shows strong momentum to stabilizing Oklahoma’s budget and putting us on a strong fiscal path.”
Senate amendment for SB 1600: FY 2019 budget bill
Among other items, the bill includes an $8.75 million supplemental funding appropriation for FY 2018 to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
FY 2019 to FY 2018 budget comparison
Sen. Greg Treat (R-OKC) released the following document Tuesday. Treat said the green highlights on the document indicate agency increases above just the public employee pay raises passed in March. In the audio below, he can be heard offering details on each of the green-highlighted agencies.
SB 1600 passed the Senate JCAB 27-7 and House JCAB 18-6 Tuesday afternoon. It will head to the House and Senate floor for approval.
Background on Oklahoma state budget
Oklahoma has seen cuts to state services over much of the past decade. Over the past 15 months, the Legislature had debated how to raise state revenue, stumbling multiple times before finally striking a tax-hike agreement in late March.
HB 1010XX cleared the three-fourths majority hurdle for revenue measures, ultimately paying for a 19.8 percent increase in appropriations to the Oklahoma State Department of Education that will cover a pay raise of at least $5,000 for all state teachers, as well as additional classroom funding.
(Update: This story was updated twice Tuesday, April 24, to include additional documents, audio and vote totals.)