OKLAHOMA CITY – In reaction to this year's nearly $13 billion general appropriations' bill, State Reps. Tom Gann, R-Inola, and Rick West, R-Heavener, have proposed capping future legislative appropriations, retaining only what is necessary to be responsible in savings for a rainy day and sending back to the taxpayer any excess funds. “We are fiduciaries of tax payer dollars not investment advisors," Gann said. "Regrettably, lawmakers have demonstrated repeatedly through massive spending increases over recent years that they are unable to resist the temptation. It's time for the people of Oklahoma to intervene with the Legislature." West expressed his disappointment that Oklahoma's rampant spending has caught national attention. "These actions do not reflect the values of Oklahomans," West said. "We are a conservative people who believe in the wisdom of limited government and controlled spending. What we are witnessing now is unrestrained spending that will prove destructive as the economy cycles into the next downturn. These are the values of California or New York – not Oklahoma!" West further noted that the extensive spending is particularly terrible during a period when many Oklahomans are grappling with inflation driven by government spending. "While numerous Oklahoma families are forced to tighten their belts, Oklahoma lawmakers have the audacity to insist on significant increases in their own budgets." Gann further warned, "In the event of the next economic downturn, revenues will decline while the Legislature's extravagant spending persists. This means not only will there be no meaningful tax reduction, but there will be tremendous pressure on the Legislature to revert to the days of tax hikes to avoid reducing their new spending levels." HJR1001X is available for consideration during the current legislative special session. If successful, the people of Oklahoma would be able to vote on the plan next year.
Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, today released a statement following Wednesday's ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which found Senate Bill 1503 and House Bill 4327 unconstitutional. “I am disappointed with today’s ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court regarding SB1503 and HB4327. A supermajority of members in both chambers supported this legislation that was signed by the governor. However, Oklahomans can rest assured that House Republicans will continue to protect the lives of the unborn and pursue legislation that values all life. Thanks to the leadership of House and Senate Republicans, Oklahoma is one of the most pro-life states in the nation. Today’s ruling won’t change that, and we will continue to be a voice for the voiceless as we strive to protect the right to life in the State of Oklahoma.”
The Oklahoma House of Representatives today approved the final appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2024, which begins July 1, fulfilling their constitutional duty to pass a balanced budget. The FY24 legislatively-appropriated budget is $12,866,390,628. House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, said the budget includes a historic investment into K-12 education, the largest increase to higher education in recent history, six weeks of paid maternity leave for both teachers and state employees, savings from criminal justice reform to community mental health efforts, a new family caregiver tax credit, additional funding for home-based services for developmentally disabled individuals and hundreds of millions into affordable housing programs. "House Republicans started session with a to-do list we received from our constituents, and this state budget includes many of the issues we prioritized," McCall said. "This forward-thinking, innovative budget is a testament to the dedication of House Republicans to building a flourishing state for every current and future Oklahoman while also committing to fiscal responsibility by maintaining healthy state reserves. I commend Chairman Wallace, Vice Chairman Martinez, our subcommittee chairs and every member of the House for their diligent work on budget throughout session." House Appropriations & Budget Chair Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, said the budget makes a remarkable impact in numerous areas of priority. "This budget is historic on a number of fronts," Wallace said. "We've increased education funding by 21.5%, giving teachers another large pay raise, and supporting classroom learning and school safety. We've included more funding for affordable housing, health care and the Rural Economic Transportation Reliability and Optimization Fund as well as many other services to benefit all Oklahomans. We have economic incentives that will bring more investment and thousands of jobs to our state. Our agencies will have the discretion of boosting state employee pay. We're protecting state assets and lowering our debt financing going forward through our Legacy Capital Financing Fund. "I'm just enormously proud of the work of each person involved in this package, from the Speaker of the House to Vice Chairman Martinez to the members who chair and serve on our Appropriations & Budget subcommittees to our fiscal staff who have worked countless hours to draft a plan that will improve the lives of all Oklahomans in a number of positive ways." House A&B Committee Vice Chair Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, said the budget agreement follows months of discussion. "This excellent budget is an investment in the people and the future of Oklahoma," Martinez said. "It is the result of an enormous amount of hard work by numerous legislators who took input from their constituents and turned that into a product that not only takes care of the needs of millions of Oklahomans but shows fiscal restraint and fiscal responsibility." The legislatively appropriated budget takes months to prepare. It is based on input received throughout dozens of public legislative budget hearings, hundreds of publicly-available agency budget requests, the governor's executive budget proposal introduced at the beginning of session, and the requests and input of all elected representatives, who each serve on standing budget committees and subcommittees. The largest area of the budget continues to be education, at $5.65 billion, or 43.9%. Public K-12 schools continue to be funded at the highest level in state history, $3.97 billion. Higher education receives just over $1 billion, including a $130 million, or 14.9%, state appropriation increase, the largest increase to colleges and universities in recent history. Health remains the second largest area of investment at 18.2% of the budget for a total of $2.34 billion. Human services receives the third largest apportionment, with 7.1%, or $909 million. Transportation and public safety make up 6.3% and 5.7%, respectively, of the state budget. The budget agreement is contained in House Bill 1004X, the general appropriations bill, and several other House and Senate bills passed off the House floor this week. Budget bills were approved in the First Extraordinary Session of the 59th Legislature, which runs concurrently with the regular session, which concluded Sine Die on Friday, May 26. Since budget bills were approved in the First Extraordinary Session, legislators have the option of reconvening at a later date to consider any veto overrides.