OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Mary Fallin is deciding when she will ask the Oklahoma Legislature to return to the state Capitol for a special session to address the state’s ongoing budget shortfalls that have jeopardized funding for state services.
Fallin spokesman Michael McNutt said Monday the governor also is working to define the parameters of her special session call that will determine what kind of bills lawmakers can consider.
Because Thanksgiving is this week, McNutt said it would likely be December or January before a special session could be held. Lawmakers are scheduled to return for regular session in the first week of February.
The governor caught legislative leaders from her own party off guard last week when she vetoed a bill that would have closed a $215 million hole in the budget through a combination of cuts to agency budgets and raids on state savings accounts.
But Fallin left intact about $80 million in supplemental funding for three human services agencies: the Department of Human Services, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the state’s Medicaid agency. That money came from a transportation fund used to improve county roads and bridges.
“Those agencies … will now have the ability to keep going for several more months until we are able to find a permanent, viable solution for recurring revenue for the next budget year,” Fallin said in a video message after she vetoed the bill last week.
After an eight-week special session, the House fell five votes short of a tax-raising plan that would have generated about $430 million each year to stabilize state revenues and provide a raise to teachers and some state workers. When that plan failed, the House moved ahead with a combination of budget cuts and a raid on agency savings accounts that many House Republicans had endorsed all along.