Budget Discussion Creates Tension In Oklahoma State Capitol

Similar to years past, it seems to be the governor and House on the same page with budget priorities, while the Senate isn’t agreeing with the other two. Now, the three parties have less than four weeks to find common ground. 

Tuesday, May 7th 2024, 5:32 pm



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With less than a month left in this session, the pressure is ramping up for lawmakers to finalize the state budget. But a meeting between the governor, Senate and House Monday was cut short after almost no agreements were made. 

Similar to years past, it seems to be the governor and House on the same page with budget priorities, while the Senate isn’t agreeing with the other two. Now, the three parties have less than four weeks to find common ground. 

“We don't have not a whole lot of time but we have plenty of time to get this right,” said Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat.

Governor Kevin Stitt extended an invite to House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat to come together and hammer out the final budget details Monday. While Stitt and McCall were hoping to end negotiations with the meeting, Treat didn’t have the same plan. 

“Hopefully, I think we can get to a budget today,” said Stitt.

“We're excited to be here to finalize this budget, I don't think we're very far apart,” said McCall.

“We don't anticipate walking out with a budget today, So I know you suggested we may be able to do that, I don't foresee any ability to do that because of our commitment to transparency,” said Treat.

In a continued push for transparency, Treat wasn’t willing to make any final agreements in Monday’s meeting, saying he wanted to run all numbers by his budget chairmen.

“I want to be abundantly clear that our subcommittees will not be cut out of this process,” said Treat.

The Senate had a handful of appropriation subcommittee meetings scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning, ensuring the speaker and governor that he would share any new negotiations with the chairs of those committees. 

On the other side of the table, Stitt and McCall are pushing tax cuts back into the conversation. Both republican leaders are calling for a quarter percent cut to the personal income tax.

“The House is not moving to Senate positions until the tax cut is addressed by your caucus,” said McCall.

After about two hours of conversations with almost no progress, Governor Stitt stepped in to end the meeting abruptly. Stitt invited the leaders, along with the House and Senate budget teams, to have another conversation at 2:00 pm on Thursday.

Senate democrats were in the room during the budget negotiations with republican leaders, and sent a statement criticizing the “lack of bipartisan cooperation.” 

“It’s time for us to put the people of Oklahoma over politics and find real bipartisan solutions to the challenges our citizens face,” said Floyd (D-Oklahoma City). “We know Oklahomans are worried about our kids succeeding in school, being able to pay their bills at the end of the month, and seeing their doctor as soon as they need to. We don’t believe the current budget proposals from the House or Senate include solutions to those challenges.”

"Our children deserve the same opportunities as children in all our surrounding states, and that means additional investment," said Sen. Julia Kirt (D-Oklahoma City). "A bipartisan budget would not send more public money to unregulated private schools—it must focus on supporting students in our public schools first. Nothing we heard from the Senate, House or governor in Monday’s budget meeting makes me confident we're moving in the right direction."

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