House Republicans Send $7.7B Oklahoma Budget to Governor

May 7, 2020

Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

Republican state representatives on Thursday sent a state budget to the governor’s desk.

All 77 of them voted for the $7.7 billion spending plan, almost $238 million than this year’s budget. A $1.4 billion shortfall had been projected because of a prolonged slump in oil prices and the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many agencies will be cut up to 4% percent to make up for that, but House Appropriations and Budget Chair Kevin Wallace said the budget provides stability in a time of uncertainty.

"There is comfort knowing that agencies will be funded, their doors will be open tomorrow. Delivery of services is changing, businesses are changing, but Oklahoma’s strong and we will survive," Wallace said.

Republican leaders say federal coronavirus relief funding for education will more than make up for a 2.5% cut to public schools.

The budget also taps state reserve funds and redirects some apportioned monies like pension fund deposits to general revenue.

All House Democrats voted against the budget. Minority Leader Emily Virgin said the budget could have been better if lawmakers and Gov. Kevin Stitt had worked together to use some of the federal coronavirus relief funds his office is controlling.

"We know we can’t use it for a shortfall, but there are COVID-related expenses in these core services that we’re not using that $800 million for," Virgin said.

Virgin said some services, like health and mental health treatment, are in higher demand during the pandemic.