state budget

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:

Oklahoma Watch executive editor David Fritze, Oklahoma Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services commissioner Terri White, and Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Nico Gomez.
Patrick Roberts / KGOU

At the Oklahoma Watch-Out public forum last month, two prominent state health officials described the impact the state budget crisis and the oil-and-gas downturn could have on residents' physical and mental health.

As the Legislature prepares to assemble in February, the state’s two primary agencies that deal with health care for the impoverished and the mentally ill are bracing for cuts to services. At the same time, losses of jobs threaten to strain physical and emotional health for families at all income levels.

Five years ago, Tonia Sina was diagnosed with a blood-clotting disorder called atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome.
Photo illustration by Brent Fuchs and Bryan M. Richter / The Journal Record

There’s no shortage of issues to address when it comes to the $900-million-and-counting budget shortfall over the next four months of legislative session.

The number could grow larger when the Board of Equalization certifies new numbers later this month. In Gov. Mary Fallin’s executive budget unveiled Monday during her State of the State address, most state agencies will see a 6 percent cut. Some, like the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, will take a smaller 3 percent hit.

Gov. Mary Fallin delivers her 2016 State of the State address Feb. 1, 2016.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

In her State of the State address on Monday, Gov. Mary Fallin called for shortened prison sentences, higher taxes on cigarettes and a $3,000 a year pay hike for all teachers.

Fallin also proposed a 6 percent cut for most state agencies in Fiscal Year 2017, with certain exceptions, and generating more revenue by eliminating some of the $8 billion in annual sales tax exemptions. Fallin's proposals come amid a budget crisis in which the state must offset a nearly $1 billion budget hole caused mainly by a plunge in oil prices. Income tax cuts have contributed to the revenue drop.

Gov. Mary Fallin delivers her 2016 State of the State address before Monday's joint session of the Oklahoma House and Senate.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin proposed bold changes to Oklahoma's budget, the criminal justice system, and said she wants lawmakers to get behind a $3,000 pay raise for teachers during her 2016 State of the State address.

The $900 million-and-counting budget shortfall lawmakers will have to deal with hangs over everything this session, but Fallin remained optimistic even as she cited a two-year, 70 percent drop in oil prices that's affected state revenue.

"We can do it," the governor repeated.

Oklahoma Capitol
Drew Tarvin / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Oklahoma lawmakers will face at least a $900 million budget shortfall, spending cuts, and a teacher shortage when it convenes Monday.

State Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, state Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, and University of Oklahoma political scientist Keith Gaddie joined KGOU’s Jacob McCleland to talk about issues the legislature will address in its 2016 session.

 


Gov. Mary Fallin during her 2015 State of the State address Feb. 2, 2015.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Monday afternoon Gov. Mary Fallin will deliver a State of the State address unlike any since she took office five years ago. Oil and gas prices, around which the state economy revolves, are at their lowest point since 2003, and the declining production tax revenue has left lawmakers with a $900-million-and-counting budget hole to plug.

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