OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin this evening released this statement after House Bill 1054X, a bipartisan budget bill, failed to win the required three-fourths passage in the Oklahoma House of Representatives to advance to the Senate:
“I’m extremely disappointed by the House of Representatives failing to pass House Bill 1054X, which would have addressed a $215 million shortfall in our current fiscal year budget and provided a teacher pay raise. It is discouraging that some members have chosen politics over taking care of people by refusing to vote for this budget package and have shown they are not willing to move our state forward. As a result of their no votes, our state will not have enough funds for agencies to deliver services that work for people, especially with our state facing a $400 million shortfall next session. I appreciate Speaker Charles McCall for allowing members to vote. Representatives, both Republicans and Democrats, who stood tall and voted for this measure should be commended.
“As a result, worst-case scenarios could become reality for several agencies that are being forced to cut crucial services if the pending revote fails. It will be devastating for many who depend on these services. This budget package would have helped set us on a path to long-term sustainability and stability by making more recurring revenue available, helped us to stop balancing our budget irresponsibly with one-time funds, and provided a teacher pay raise as well as a raise for state employees, and tax relief for low-income Oklahomans.
“The House leadership captured the bill, which with 71 votes was within a razor-thin margin of passing. The speaker should put it back up for a vote, and I call upon Oklahomans to continue to contact their representative.
“We can’t set Oklahoma up for failure by not facing our budget problems and kicking the can down the road. We must restore hope, and set future generations of Oklahomans up for success.”
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister made the following remarks today following the failure of a state revenue legislative package that would have funded a $3,000 teacher pay raise. House Bill 1054 failed to earn the required threshold of votes to advance.
“Exactly one year ago, after the defeat of State Question 779, our dedicated teachers were assured that the State of Oklahoma would not abandon its promise to provide regionally competitive pay. The longer the teacher shortage crisis goes unanswered, the more devastating its effects will be. Our kids continue to pay the price.
“I am exceedingly grateful for the 37 Senators and 71 House members who courageously stood up for our students and educators by voting for the bipartisan measure. We must not lose hope. We can’t give up. We stand with Oklahomans who demand and deserve so much better.
OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz commented on the failed revenue vote in the Oklahoma House:
“Because the Oklahoma House of Representatives did not advance the bipartisan revenue deal, teachers and state employees won’t get a much-needed pay raise and cuts to mental health and other services will be much more severe. The cuts will be deep and spread out across all government. This is not where any of us wanted to be, but we are here because the revenue bill failed in the House. The financial scandal at the Health Department is an unexpected and costly expense. If we spend everything we have now, there won’t be any money left for other emergencies that could arise. And spending even more one-time money now makes next year’s budget deficit - already forecast at $560 million - even larger. The Oklahoma Senate will work to minimize the impact of cuts on core services.”
House Democratic Caucus
OKLAHOMA CITY -- On behalf of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Emily Virgin released the following statement on today’s vote on House Bill 1054X.
“Since the beginning of this extraordinary session, Republican House leadership has told Oklahomans that they have the 75 percent of their caucus needed to raise revenue, and it was the Democrats who needed to come on board with their support. Today, after more than 80 percent of our caucus held their nose and voted yes for this far from ideal revenue bill, we found out this simply isn’t true. The House Republican Caucus delivered 48 votes or less than 67 percent of their caucus.
House Republicans have once again failed to deliver the leadership necessary to bring an end to this special session and give certainty to the most vulnerable of Oklahomans. Once again, Republicans have gone out of their way to provide false hope to teachers and state employees desperate for a raise, and continue to put the wants and desires of select oil and gas companies over the millions of Oklahomans affected by this body’s inability to fix the budget problem it created.
Throughout this session, we have heard many promises from Republican leadership, and time and time again, those promises have been broken. We have seen a committee chairman refuse to vote his own bill out of committee, and we have seen the author of a teacher pay raise bill refuse to support the bill needed to fund those raises.
This caucus stands ready to reverse irresponsible income tax cuts. We stand ready to make oil and gas pay their fair share. And we stand ready to bring an end to this special session."
Oklahoma Public Employees Association
“By not passing the revenue package today, the Oklahoma House of Representatives chose to neglect core state services provided by our state agencies and in our schools,” said Sterling Zearley, executive director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association. “It is clear that the influence of tobacco and oil companies on many house members is stronger than their desire to fund services their constituents rely on.”
“Several lawmakers voiced support for core services during debate and we appreciate those who did then voted for the measure,” he said. “They understand how this bill, while not perfect, was a step in the right direction. Those who voted no seem to be okay with service cuts and starting next year with a larger deficit.”
“We will continue to advocate on behalf of state employees, retirees and the services they provide through state agencies, despite the inaction of the house to support core state services,” he said.
House Speaker Charles McCall released the following statement after House Bill 1054X failed on the House floor today. House Bill 1054X included an increase in the motor fuel tax, cigarette tax, tobacco tax, 3.2 beer tax and an increase in the gross production tax.
“As we have said throughout the session, the 75 percent super majority requirement of State Question 640 is a high hurdle. We heard from our constituents more on this bill than any other in a long time, and it was clear that the House listened and voted the way their constituents encouraged them to vote. The bill passed with a large majority, which makes it eligible to be voted on by the people of Oklahoma at the ballot. It is time to move on to what can pass and help this year’s budget. Last week, the House -- in four bipartisan votes that all received more than 90 percent support -- sent several appropriations measures to the Senate that would use existing cash to ensure vital health services and programs will continue without interruption into April 2018. We also approved a bill that would increase the gross production tax to 7 percent on more than 6,600 existing wells and generate $48 million for this year’s budget. I encourage the Senate to act quickly to pass those measures for the citizens of Oklahoma.”
Oklahoma Policy Institute Executive Director David Blatt released the following statement on the Oklahoma House's failure to pass HB 1054:
Most Oklahomans want a comprehensive solution to our budget crisis. The solution preferred by the majority would prevent deeper budget cuts, provide desperately needed raises for teachers and state employees, and put the whole state budget on firmer footing next year. Instead, State Question 640 has allowed a small number of hold-outs to block the popular will. Continuing gridlock will endanger life-saving health care services, add to next year's budget hole, perpetuate the exodus of Oklahoma's best teachers out of the state, and risk costly state credit downgrades.
Lawmakers still have time to reconsider the vote today. Allowing this plan to fail after coming so close would be a tragedy. We urge the lawmakers standing in the way of this deal to hear the thousands of advocates for mental health, disability care, and other crucial services who are communicating the dangers of more budget cuts. We urge them to respect the wishes of the majority and pass the only bipartisan consensus plan that has emerged from weeks of special session.
The top Libertarian candidate for Governor, Chris Powell, was unsparing in his criticism of legislative leaders and Gov. Fallin after HB 1054 failed to achieve the necessary 76 votes to pass. “They can’t even enact a bad solution, so the people of Oklahoma get no solution at all,” said Powell, “this failure is just another demonstration of the inability of this dysfunctional Legislature to accomplish anything."
The so-called ‘grand bargain’ was presented to the state House after the Senate did muster the necessary three-fourths majority, but it fell five votes short in the House with five Democrats and 22 Republicans voting Nay. Powell expressed hope that lawmakers could find other ways to make up budget shortfalls for mental health and other programs, “Perhaps now there can be serious consideration of spending prioritization and elimination of non-essential items, such as the over $450 million in incentive programs in the state budget.”