If Monday was any indication, the next four months will be a challenging, and perhaps contentious, time at the State Capitol.
Gov. Mary Fallin unveiled her fiscal year 2018 budget Monday to mixed reviews from outside her party and within as lawmakers prepared to once again grapple with a multi-hundred-million-dollar shortfall.
In this recording, Oklahoma Watch’s Trevor Brown and Brad Gibson discuss Fallin’s proposals and what kind of reception they are likely to get during the session.
A short primer for the session:
What is Fallin proposing?
• Wide-ranging tax changes that would increase the tax burden for some segments of the population and lower it for others.
• Revisiting proposals that failed to gain traction in the past, such as eliminating the state tax on groceries.
• Avoiding last year’s reliance on one-time revenue sources.
How does this year compare to last year?
• Last year: a $1.3 billion shortfall, the largest in the state’s history.
• This year: an estimated $870 million shortfall.
Where would they find the money?
• $839.7 million by expanding the state’s sale tax base.
• $219.7 million in transportation funding reforms, which include increasing the gasoline tax by seven cents and the diesel tax by 10 cents.
• $257.8 million by increasing the state’s cigarette tax by $1.50.
• $45 million by requiring several non-appropriated agencies to send more revenue back to the general fund.
• $36.6 million by accelerating the sunset for a tax credit on wind energy.
What about tax cuts?
Fallin proposed to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries and the corporate income tax, together worth nearly $380 million a year.
What about budget cuts or spending increases in Fallin’s budget?
• No budget cuts.
• Most departments keep their current spending level.
• Funding increases for 11 agencies.
Where does the teacher pay raise proposal stand?
There is widespread support in both parties but little consensus on how much or when educators could expect a salary boost. Fallin supports a plan to spend $50 million to give teachers a $1,000 raise.
What other priorities do Fallin and legislative leaders support?
• Further criminal justice reforms.
• Compliance with the Real ID Act.
Where do lawmakers stand on tax changes?
• Tepid response to gasoline tax increase among Democrats, some Republicans.
• The state should find ways to cut spending instead of resorting to tax increases, some GOP lawmakers say.
How will politics affect this?
The three-fourths supermajority required to raise taxes means Republicans will need help from Democrats to pass some of Fallin’s revenue-raising proposals. Senate Republicans have enough members to clear that threshold; House Republicans do not.