Gov. Fallin Signs 2018 State Budget Bill
Gov. Mary Fallin signed the Fiscal Year 2018 Oklahoma state budget Wednesday.
“This plan keeps our government from shutting down, and, despite challenging circumstances, funds our core mission services,” Fallin said in a press release announcing her approval of the $6.8 billion budget bill.
“But we missed an opportunity to do more to reform our budget process and find efficiencies,” Fallin said.
“We still need to do more to address structural imbalances in the state’s budget, fix problematic tax policies and make available more recurring and stable revenue.”
The FY 2018 budget keeps funding flat for 16 state agencies, including the Department of Education and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.
It cuts funding for all other state agencies by an average of 4 percent.
The budget also includes a 3 percent increase in the gross production tax on oil and gas companies for certain wells drilled between 2011 and 2015, a $1.50-per-pack cigarette fee and a 1.25 percent sales tax on motor vehicles.
“It’s a sad day when the best that can be said of our state’s budget is that it keeps our government from shutting down,” House Minority Leader Rep. Scott Inman (D-Del City) tweeted Wednesday.
Inman has been a vocal critic of the 2018 budget plan. As the Oklahoma House of Representatives prepared to vote on the budget Friday--the last day of regular session--Inman urged lawmakers not to pass it, saying “you don’t have to do this.”
The budget passed the House Friday 57 to 42.
The budget is set to take effect July 1, but it could be challenged by state courts as unconstitutional, because it includes funding measures, like the cigarette fee, that lawmakers passed in the last week of session.
The Oklahoma state constitution prohibits legislators from considering bills that raise money for the state in the last five days of session.
The cigarette fee, the gross production tax increase and the motor vehicle sales tax could also be challenged on state constitutional grounds because they were passed with a simple majority vote this session, when the constitution requires a three-quarters majority to pass any revenue-raising measure.