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Oklahoma Senators blame opposite chamber for state budget delays, refuse to hear fiscal House bills

Sen. Pro Temp Greg Treat explains the Senate’s choice not to consider House Bills with fiscal Impact until the House can deliver its promised budget plan, on April 3, following a Senate Appropriations and Budget meeting at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Lionel Ramos
Sen. Pro Temp Greg Treat explains the Senate’s choice not to consider House Bills with fiscal Impact until the House can deliver its promised budget plan, on April 3, following a Senate Appropriations and Budget meeting at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Oklahoma's budget-making process has hit a snag: Senators won’t consider any money bills from the opposite chamber, and Pro Tem Greg Treat said they’ll continue with that stance until they get a budget plan from the House.

Members of the Senate Appropriations and Budget Committee convened for about 10 minutes Wednesday afternoon to say one thing: There will be no action on House bills that cost the state money until the chamber provides the Senate with a budget plan.

Sen. Roger Thompson, who chairs the committee, made the announcement.

“We will not move forward on hearing any House appropriation bills until we’ve received their full numbers,” Thompson said. “It is our conviction in the Senate that we started at the beginning to shine light on the budget process. And if you go dark in the middle of the process, then the entire process goes dark.”

During a press conference following the meeting, Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat said the Senate has done its part to be transparent, now it’s time for the House to do the same.

“We delivered the numbers on time,” Treat said. “The House of Representatives, they told us they were giving us their budget sheet yesterday so we could operate in a consistent, transparent manner when we're taking up House bills. Unfortunately, for some reason, they're delaying that.”

Treat said that as far as he knows, recent disagreements over tax cuts and other fiscal issues are not the reason for the House keeping their numbers a secret, as that chamber’s leadership have not mentioned
what the hold up is.

Treat said he has a “sneaking suspicion” House leaders are trying to push budget discussions to a Joint Committee.

If that happens, the state budget process would be more ad hoc and less transparent. A response from House leadership is pending.

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Lionel Ramos covers state government for a consortium of Oklahoma’s public radio stations. He is a graduate of Texas State University in San Marcos with a degree in English. He has covered race and equity, unemployment, housing, and veterans' issues.
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