Oklahoma House sends spending bills to Senate

Beverly Bryant - October 30, 2017 4:19 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma House has approved spending bills that would supplement the budgets of three state agencies but didn’t consider any measures to raise new revenue to help fill a $215 million hole in the state budget.

The House passed four measures Monday that would appropriate funds from the general revenue and constitutional Rainy Day Reserve funds. If they become law, the bills would fill only half the hole created when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled a cigarette fee passed by lawmakers earlier this year was unconstitutional.

Each of the measures now heads to the state Senate for debate and a vote.

The bills would appropriate $29.5 million to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, $29 million to the Department of Human Services and a total of about $48 million to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

The Oklahoma House and Senate were scheduled to reconvene Monday afternoon to consider a variety of revenue-raising proposals. Lawmakers convened on Saturday but adjourned within minutes without taking any action.

Lawmakers have been unable to agree on a ways to raise new revenue. Democrats have made increasing the production tax on oil and natural gas a key issue in budget negotiations in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Last week, the Senate adopted a resolution asking the House to pass a package of tax increases, including doubling the production tax from 2 percent to 4 percent. But the bill failed to get out of committee.

 

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