Governor Mary Fallin has vetoed most of the latest budget bill, while keeping temporary funding intact for the health and human services adversely affected when the cigarette fee was ruled unconstitutional.
Fallin announced the veto late Friday, after both legislative chambers had adjourned the special session. In a press release, she said she will be calling back lawmakers soon for a second special session.
Fallin expressed disappointment in the legislature for not finding sustainable, long-term revenue.
“House Bill 1019X does not provide a long-term solution to the re-occurring budget deficits, and within three months we will come back facing an estimated $600 million shortfall.”
Fallin said her actions will avoid immediate cuts to agencies, by using a smaller portion of the state's cash reserves that was called for in the budget bill. She implored lawmakers to approve revenue measures that would provide a permanent fix.
"The constant budget crisis has put us in survival mode. I want us to thrive. We will thrive when we can adequately and consistently fund our core services. That will happen when we find sustainable and predictable revenue sources."
The budget package would have filled Oklahoma’s $215 million dollar budget hole by spreading $60 million dollars in cuts across 49 state agencies and taking one-time money from agency savings accounts.
Earlier in the day, lawmakers in the Senate passed the bill out of their chamber, by a vote of 29 to 14. Fallin watched the debate from the gallery.
During the debate, Sen. Kim David (R-Porter) expressed her frustration with the bill.
"It’s disappointing that we’re nearly emptying our bank accounts and passing cuts to state agencies. The garage is on fire and we need a new roof, and everybody just wants to put a new roof on without putting the fire out first."
Lawmakers spent eight weeks in the special legislative session, but failed to pass several broad based tax packages. Now, they will wait for Fallin's call for another special session.