State Budget

Governor Mary Fallin says she's uncertain what she is going to do with the latest budget bill to cover the $215 million shortfall. She has said in the past she would veto any measure which makes cuts to state agencies and spends cash reserves.

With the latest budget fix, Fallin says lawmakers are kicking the can down the road.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

There was a lot of hope pinned on Wednesday's vote in the Oklahoma House.

For seven weeks, lawmakers have argued over how to fill a $215 million dollar budget hole. But a vote on a bill touted as a “grand bargain” failed.

Lawmakers have largely agreed to increase taxes on beer, tobacco and fuel. The biggest sticking point throughout the special session has been whether to raise taxes on oil and natural gas production.

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Five weeks after calling a special session, Gov. Mary Fallin announced Monday that Republicans in the state House and Senate have reached a budget deal to fill a $215 million shortfall.

Updated Oct. 23 at 1:43 p.m. with Democratic response.

Fallin said the agreement would increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack of cigarettes, hike the motor fuel tax by 6 cents, and change the alcoholic beverage tax. It would also provide a $3,000 teacher pay raise, a $1,000 pay raise for some state employees, and restore the Earned Income Tax Credit.

ELASTICSOUL / FLICKR (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A state board in charge of determining legislators’ salaries decided on Tuesday to keep compensation for state senators and representatives flat. They will consider reducing salaries and benefits when they meet again in January.

The Board on Legislative Compensation voted unanimously to maintain legislators’ current compensation, which includes a base salary of $38,400, in addition to benefits and compensation for per diem costs.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about lawmakers suspending the special session until a bargain can be made on how to fix the state budget, the Department of Corrections gets blow back from a state lawmaker as it works to reduce overcrowding in state prisons and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt spends $25,000 on a sound proof phone booth for his office.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about the announcement by University of Oklahoma President David Boren that he is stepping down from the job at the end of the school year, the state legislature gears up to start a special session to fix the budget on Monday and Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz says he is considering the position of executive director of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about constitutional challenges against a state law to crackdown on drunk drivers and another to increase fees on a pack of cigarettes by a $1.50 and calls by the state's two biggest universities to ask for tuition increases in light of budget cuts from state lawmakers.

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Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The $6.9 billion budget signed last week by Gov. Mary Fallin delivers 5 percent cuts to most state agencies. On paper, it looks like two environmental agencies received funding boosts,  but a closer look at the numbers shows the increases aren’t what they appear.

SORT OF AN INCREASE

Trey Lam is often found off the beaten path, beyond low-water river crossings and through pastures accessible only by rocky, tire-jarring rural roads.

Brian Hardzinski / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Two of the largest tobacco companies in the U.S. are suing Oklahoma over the state’s new cigarette fee.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc. filed a brief with the Oklahoma Supreme Court Wednesday, along with several Oklahoma companies and individuals.

In the brief, plaintiffs argue the $1.50-per-pack cigarette fee, or the “Smoking Cessation Act,” “flagrantly violates” the Oklahoma constitution.

The fee is scheduled to take effect in August, and would generate about $215 million per year for the state.

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