Fallin’s veto of budget plan catches GOP leaders off guard

November 18, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Republican leaders in the Oklahoma House and Senate say they’re surprised that Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed a budget plan to raid cash reserves and further cut state agency spending.

Fallon’s veto late Friday underscored the ongoing tension between her and House leaders.

House Speaker Charles McCall criticized the governor in a statement Saturday, accusing her of creating more uncertainty for health care services, business investment and job creation.

“This veto action interjects more chaos and drama into the lives of Oklahomans at a time when they want stability,” McCall said. “The governor’s line-item veto of House Bill 1019X is a complete reversal of her promise to the Legislature and, frankly, to the people of Oklahoma.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz also said he was surprised by the veto since the governor’s office was involved in the negotiation of the revised budget agreement and never indicated she planned to veto it.

“The revised budget agreement was not the Senate’s first choice to resolve the budget crisis but it was the only option after the House showed it was not able to meet the constitutional standards of raising revenue,” Schulz said in a statement late Friday. “Bringing the Legislature back into special session at this point seems like a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.”

Fallin has been pushing the Legislature to find new sources of revenue to close a $215 million hole in the current budget and help stabilize state coffers. Lawmakers appeared to be close to a broad agreement earlier this month on new taxes on cigarettes, fuel, alcohol and energy production, including a pay raise for state workers and teachers, but that proposal didn’t get enough support in the House.

Fallin said she wants the Legislature to return for a second special session and come up with long-term funding solutions to shore up the state budget and give teachers a pay raise, among other things.

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