Capitol Insider: Governor Signs Budget Bill, Groups Consider Suing
It’s been one week since state lawmakers finished the regular legislative session and passed a state budget. Here’s what’s happened this week in politics...
Governor Signs 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.
The budget 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.
State Savings Account Still Empty
The state savings account, or the Rainy Day Fund, is supposed to provide more than $100 million for the FY 2018 budget, but that account is empty because the government borrowed the money to pay bills and balance previous state budgets.
“The Rainy Day Fund and other funds need to be repaid,” said Shawn Ashley in his Capitol Insider interview with KGOU’s Dick Pryor.
According to Ashley, refilling the state savings account and other funds is the Office of Management and Enterprise Services’ priority, so if the office receives less money than it needs, it will pay those funds first.
That means, Ashley said, state agencies scheduled to receive money from the office could see another budget cut.
Groups Consider Suing Over Budget
Oklahoma City attorney Jerry Fent said he is considering filing a lawsuit against the state government.
If filed, the lawsuit would likely challenge the FY 2018 budget on constitutional grounds, since the Oklahoma constitution bars lawmakers from considering revenue raising measures during the last five days of regular session, and requires revenue raising measures to be passed with a three-quarters majority vote.
Courts would have to decide whether bills passed in the last few days of session, like the $1.50-per-pack cigarette fee, count as revenue raising measures.
The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank, has also expressed concern about a bill relating to individual income tax.