Oklahoma Committees Pass Budget Bills In Chaotic Late Night Meetings

May 24, 2017

Lawmakers got their first peek at Oklahoma’s budget last night in a haphazard midnight session senior legislators described as the most disjointed in their career.

House and Senate committee members had mere minutes to review the proposed $6.9 billion dollar budget before voting on two versions of the state spending plan.

The bills are nearly identical. One would give teachers a $1,000 pay raise. Both deliver funding cuts for most state agencies. Sixteen agencies, including the Departments of Education and Transportation, are in line for flat budgets.

In the chaotic House committee meeting, leadership asked members to vote on appropriations without customary budget summaries and detailed spreadsheets.

After the vote to send the bills to the full House and Senate, a handful of demonstrators yelled as they exited the capitol. Guthrie Republican Jason Murphey leaned against his desk, his shoulders slumped.

"This is the least transparent process that I think I’ve seen in my 11 years here. It’s hard to wrap my head around it."

Shortly after the vote closed just before the midnight deadline, legislators realized: they may have voted on one bill that contained the wrong language.