Oklahoma State Department of Health

What Budget Drama’s End May Mean For Key State Services

May 23, 2015
State Reps. Elise Hall (far right) and Katie Henke (center) applaud as the state House adjourns sine die Friday afternoon.
M. Scott Carter / Oklahoma Watch

The 55th session of the Oklahoma Legislature adjourned for the year late Friday afternoon, quietly ending four months’ worth of fighting over money, morals and museums.

For most of the session, a shadow hung over everything: a $611 million budget hole. 

Lawmakers chose to adjourn the session a week early, just days after they wrapped up work on the state’s $7.2 billion budget.

The budget cut funding to career and technology education, higher education and transportation. At the same time, more funds were steered to mental health services, public safety and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. Even with budget hikes, however, key agencies said they would likely have to cut spending.

In a move that surprised many, the Legislature approved a $25 million bond issue for the beleaguered American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City and a second $25 million bond issue for a museum of popular culture in Tulsa.

Lawmakers also debated issues such as same-sex marriage.

The shrinking pool of money available for appropriation quickly became the session’s central theme.

In February, after the Board of Equalization certified a funding estimate millions below the 2014 prediction, lawmakers went into damage-control mode. They warned agency heads little money would be available for next year.

“We’ve been telling them all session there would be cuts,” said Rep. Dennis Casey, R-Morrison, vice-chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

By May, agency directors were convinced.

An electron micrograph of the measles virus
Cynthia S. Goldsmith / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has confirmed a case of measles in Stillwater and says others may have been exposed.

The department said Friday this is the first confirmed case of measles inOklahoma since 1997.

The infected person is an international traveler married to an Oklahoma State University student and lives off campus.

Oklahoma State Senator Kimberly David, R-Porter
Oklahoma State Senate

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services heard from four agencies during budget hearings Monday, three of which asked for budget increases.

Subcommittee Chair Sen. Kimberly David said the decrease in the state’s budget would impact the appropriated funds to the agencies.

“The ongoing conversation that we’re going to have is the fact that we have a budget deficit this year. I would be surprised if there were any increases and wouldn’t be surprised if there were any decreases,” she said.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Department of Health is reporting four more deaths due to influenza in the state. 

The department said Thursday that six people have now died as a result of the flu during the season that began Sept. 28. Each person who died was 65-years-old or older.

Two of the deaths were reported in Garfield County and one each in Carter, Oklahoma, Payne, and Stephens counties.

Nearly 140 people have also been hospitalized due to the flu.

ok.gov/health

The Oklahoma Aging Advocacy Leadership Academy is accepting applications for its class of 2015.

The academy provides free training for individuals to become volunteer community leaders and advocates for Oklahoma's aging population. Applications are being accepted until Dec. 31.

caduceus
takomabibelot / Flickr

The Oklahoma State Department of Health says the state's overall health security exceeds the National Health Security Preparedness Index average.

The index measures the nation's readiness to protect people during a health emergency or disaster. The index reports Oklahoma as rating at or above the national average in 12 health security measures.

ok.gov/health

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) will receive $1.15 million over five years from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to gather critical data on homicide and suicide using the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS).

In Oklahoma, suicide is the leading manner of violent death. In 2012, more than 650 Oklahomans died by suicide. The OSDH will use NVDRS data to support suicide prevention programs of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. 

ok.gov/health

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports four new hospitalizations due to the flu this season.

The department said Wednesday that 24 people have now been hospitalized this season, which began Sept. 28.

The department says there have been no deaths due to the flu thus far, after a record 61 people died in the state due to flu last flu season. The previous record of 46 deaths was recorded in the 2009 flu season — the year the state began tracking the statistic.

stethoscope
Lora Zibman / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma's commissioner of health has named a new deputy.

Dr. Terry Cline, commissioner of health and secretary of health and human services, appointed Julie Cox-Kain as his deputy secretary of health and human services.

Cox-Kain also becomes senior deputy commissioner for the Oklahoma Department of Health. She has served as chief operating officer for the agency since 2009.

NHSE / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Department of Health says eight people have died from the flu during the past week.

The agency reported Thursday that a total of 33 people have died from the flu in the state since Sept. 29. A total of 975 people have either died or been hospitalized due to the virus during the period.

The deaths include two children aged 4 or younger, eight people in the 18-49 age range, 13 people aged 50-64 and 10 people 65 years old or older.

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