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Capitol Insider

Fridays at 4:45 p.m. and Mondays at 7:45 a.m.
  • Hosted by Dick Pryor

A weekly feature produced by KGOU in partnership with eCapitol, an Oklahoma City-based legislative news and bill tracking service. KGOU general manager Dick Pryor talks to eCapitol news director Shawn Ashley, elected officials and newsmakers about legislative matters in the state of Oklahoma.

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Storme Jones / KGOU

When Gov. Mary Fallin addressed lawmakers in her first State of the State speech in 2011, she implored them to fix a $600 million hole in the state budget. Seven years later, in her final State of the State address, the legislature is faced with a similar task: filling an estimated $425 million gap in the budget.

Storme Jones / KGOU

As Oklahoma lawmakers prepare for the start of the 2018 legislative session on Feb. 5, they’ll be met with the familiar issues of filling an estimated $425-million budget hole, giving teachers a pay raise, reducing prison overcrowding and maintaining the state’s infrastructure.

Storme Jones / KGOU

As Oklahoma lawmakers prepare for the start of the 2018 legislative session on Feb. 5, they’ll be met with the familiar issues of filling an estimated $425-million budget hole, giving teachers a pay raise, reducing prison overcrowding and maintaining the state’s infrastructure.

Former Republican Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Kris Steele says it’s time for lawmakers to put statesmanship over partisanship.

Storme Jones / KGOU

State Rep. Josh Cockroft says he was surprised at the lack of financial oversight in agencies like the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

In an interview with Capitol Insider’s Dick Pryor and Shawn Ashley, Cockroft, who is chairing a special investigative committee looking into the health department, said the committee has received more than 60 tips about mismanagement across multiple state agencies.

“It's concerning. You would never run a business like that,” Cockroft said.

 

AP Photo

State Rep. Josh Cockroft says he was surprised at the lack of financial oversight in agencies like the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

In an interview with Capitol Insider’s Dick Pryor and Shawn Ashley, Cockroft, who is chairing a special investigative committee looking into the health department, said the committee has received more than 60 tips about mismanagement across multiple state agencies.

“It's concerning. You would never run a business like that,” Cockroft said.

Storme Jones / KGOU

State Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, is the Democratic Caucus Chair for the Oklahoma House of Representatives. She says the last year at the state capitol was “the most grueling and intense and frustrating,” of the seven years she has been in office. 2017 may be over, but remnants of last year’s legislative challenges continue.

Dick Pryor / KGOU

 

Oklahoma lawmakers are still in a special session looking to find additional revenue, one month before the next regular session is scheduled to begin. Gov. Mary Fallin called the special session last month, asking lawmakers to provide additional funding for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and the State Health Care Authority. The legislature appropriated funds for the health agencies but have not yet found a way to prevent future budget shortfalls.

FILE PHOTO

Melissa McLawhorn Houston was appointed Oklahoma Labor Commissioner by Governor Mary Fallin after Commissioner Mark Costello was murdered by his son in 2015.

 

Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Melissa McLawhorn Houston was appointed Oklahoma Labor Commissioner by Governor Mary Fallin after Commissioner Mark Costello was murdered by his son in 2015.

State representatives Scott Inman, D-Del City, and Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, debate on the Oklahoma House floor on May 27, 2016.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The primary work of the second legislative special session of the year is over.

On Friday afternoon, Governor Mary Fallin signed SB0001XX and SB0002XX to provide supplemental funding for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Human Services to get the agencies through April. The Senate passed the bills on Wednesday and the House of Representatives passed them on Friday, without any no votes, to send them to the governor.

File / AP Photo

 

 

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is requesting a one billion-dollar increase in funding. DOC officials say the funding is long overdue.

The $1.53 billion budget includes plans to increase staff pay, build two new medium security prisons and expand rehabilitation programs aimed at reducing recidivism rates.

DOC Spokesman Matt Elliott told KGOU, some state prisons are in need of things like locks and sewage system repairs.

KGOU's Dick Pryor and eCapitol's Shawn Ashley outside the building.
Claire Donnelly / KGOU

Restoration work is ongoing at the Oklahoma state capitol.

 

Recently, project manager Trait Thompson led KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol news director Shawn Ashley on a tour of the building.

Sue Ogrocki / AP Photo

The Oklahoma legislature’s special session continues, as a compromise bill failed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Lawmakers nearly agreed to increase taxes on beer, tobacco and fuel, and were close to a deal on raising taxes on oil and natural production, which has been a major point of contention throughout the special session. The  tax package required 76 votes in the House, but fell 5 votes short.

FILE- Oklahoma State Capitol
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

As the Oklahoma legislature wraps up its sixth week in special session, only one bill has made it to Governor Mary Fallin’s desk. The House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill to appropriate $23.3 million from the state’s “rainy day fund” for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

 

 

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

A budget package that would fill the state’s $215 million budget shortfall and provide raises to teachers and some state employees was held up in a House committee Friday, and its future is now in doubt.

Dick Pryor / KGOU

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services announced it will be forced to cut half of its services if lawmakers don’t fix the state’s budget.

Oklahoma Watch

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services announced it will be forced to cut half of its services if lawmakers don’t fix the state’s budget.

Oklahoma State Capitol Building
Claire Donnelly / KGOU

Three agencies that serve many of the state’s most vulnerable residents are facing additional budget cuts. The Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) has notified the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA), Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) and Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) they must make cuts to fill the state’s $215 million budget hole. 

FILE PHOTO

Oklahoma House Minority Leader Scott Inman (D-Del City) unveiled on Thursday what he said was the largest bipartisan budget deal in nearly three decades. Later in the day, Gov. Mary Fallin announced in no uncertain terms that a deal had not been reached.

“If there’s only one person at the altar, there’s no marriage,” Fallin said.

“She invited us to the altar. We said yes. If she is having cold feet, the people of Oklahoma are in serious trouble,” Inman replied in a Tweet.

okhouse.gov

Although the special legislative session has been suspended, the deal-making continues. eCapitol News director Shawn Ashley says a revenue-raising package may be in the works.

 

Gov. Mary Fallin met with the House Republican Caucus on Wednesday for more than two hours. After the meeting, Fallin told eCapitol she was optimistic.

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