House Approves $12.8B State Budget
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.