state budget

Gov. Mary Fallin announces new cabinet appointments with Mike Hunter, Jennifer Chance, and Chris Benge during a news conference Monday.
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

Gov. Mary Fallin says she'll still vote for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump even after his 2005 comments that came to light Friday. In a press conference Monday, Fallin said she believes Trump's “vision for America” is better than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s.

“Certainly I was offended by Donald Trump's remarks about women, as any woman would be. But he has apologized. I accept his apology,” Fallin said. “Those comments were made over 11 years ago, and in the end, what I'm looking at is the platform, the position, that presidential candidates are running on.”

Oklahoma state Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, talks with a colleague on the Senate floor during a committee meeting in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, May 17, 2016.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

When Oklahoma’s $6.8 billion spending plan was unveiled in late May, it was greeted with a mixture of sharp criticism over its cuts and revenue patches and, in some sectors, relief that the reductions were not more severe.

From all sides, however, there was one common reaction to the 114-page budget bill: surprise.

State Capitol, Oklahoma Capitol
Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

A number of one-time funding measures will help stave off potentially crippling cuts to K-12 education, health care and other core service as part of a budget deal announced Tuesday by Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders.

But some key lawmakers said the agreement, which will need to pass the Legislature by the end of the session on Friday, only delays the need for more painful reductions and could create more financial troubles when the Legislature returns next year.

Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, listens to questions on the Oklahoma House of Representatives floor on May 27, 2016.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a $6.8 billion budget in the waning hours of the legislative session Friday. The bill was narrowly approved with a vote of 52-45 and now goes to Gov. Mary Fallin's desk for her approval.

Updated May 27, 4:43 p.m.

During floor debate, House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, said the budget isn’t perfect, but it funds core services.

House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, updates lawmakers Friday about Oklahoma's budget situation one week before the constitionally required end of the 2016 legislative session.
Oklahoma House of Representatives

After weeks of dire warnings about Oklahoma’s budget situation, legislative leaders say they're hopeful that a package of bills moving through the Legislature over the next few days will avert draconian cuts to education, health and other core programs.

But as work continues to bridge the state’s $1.3 billion budget gap for the 2017 fiscal year that begins July 1, it appears many services will not be fully shielded from cost-cutting moves.

Students from the Classen School of Advanced Studies march from their school to the Capitol on May 18, 2016 in protest of state budget cuts.
Rachel Hubbard / The Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

For the second time this week Oklahoma City Public Schools students protested budget cuts to their education, but this time they marched all the way to the state Capitol.

Oklahoma state Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, is pictured during a committee meeting in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 13, 2015.
Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press

It’s now the final month of the legislative session, and lawmakers have less than four weeks to pull off a budget deal to close a $1.3 billion shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Will they get it done?

“Yes,” state Sen. Mike Schulz, R-Altus, told reporters Thursday. “I want to go home.”

Oklahoma's constitution requires the legislature to adjourn on the final Friday in May. Lawmakers have discussed wrapping up their work a week early, which they’ve done every year since 2012.

Construction continues on Evans Road at State Highway 66 east of El Reno.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

The state's budget crisis has been blamed on low oil prices, but it affects local governments too. That's because a portion of oil and gas tax revenue is earmarked for counties and schools.

Grand River Dam Authority CEO Dan Sullivan speaking to the April meeting of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission is a small agency with a big job: Police the Illinois River and protect six of the state’s most delicate waterways from pollution. But budget cuts have forced the commission to plan  for its own death.

Gov. Mary Fallin, flanked by state officials, unveiled budget proposals Arpl 13, 2016.
Oklahoma Watch

In the confusing arithmetic of state budgets, the size of a cut or an increase can be in the eye of the beholder.

That was the case on Wednesday when Gov. Mary Fallin unveiled a new budget proposal for fiscal year 2017 calling for a 4.5 percent cut in budgets for 52 state agencies, including higher education.

But wait. That 4.5 percent is a share of those agencies' expected spending totals after receiving cuts during the current fiscal year, totaling 7 percent of their annual budget.

Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent Rob Neu addresses reporters during an April 21, 2015 news conference about the district's discipline practices toward minority students.
Oklahoma Watch / YouTube

Oklahoma City Public Schools said Friday 92 administrative positions will be eliminated in order to save about $5 million in the 2016/2017 school year. That's about an 18 percent reduction in the overall administrative workforce.

59 of those jobs will be at the Central Office, and 33 will be at campuses throughout the district. That comes on top of the 208 teacher position cuts announced last month.

State Agency Job Cuts Likely, OMES HR Head Says

Mar 31, 2016
Lucinda Meltabarger is administrator of human capital management for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

The state agency in charge of human resources is expected to make job cuts soon.

The Office of Management and Enterprise Services' Lucinda Meltabarger is reviewing reduction in force (RIF) plans. She’s trying to confirm that other state departments’ plans to staff their agencies with a budget at least $1.3 million smaller than this year make fiscal sense and are legally sound. 

empty classroom
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Two state officials are on different pages when it comes to chances that a dedicated education fund will fail this year.

Both agree, however, that additional education cuts are coming, partly because a separate fund likely will fail.

Corn, Okla., Mayor Barbara Nurnberg outside city hall in January 2016.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

It costs a lot of money to clean, transport and dispose of water. Big cities can spread the cost of multi-million dollar sewer or treatment projects across thousands of customers. But many small Oklahoma towns don’t have that option, and often rely on a state-funded grant program that’s being squeezed by budget cuts.


Crumbling Infrastructure

Preston Doerflinger, Office of State Finance director, during a November 2011 tax credit task force meeting.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

State agencies will be dealing with even deeper cuts this fiscal year, on top of 3 percent reductions caused by Oklahoma’s revenue failure late in 2015.

On Monday, Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger sent an email to agencies saying the cuts would double starting in March, eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley reports: