With a 74-15 vote on Friday, the Oklahoma House of Representatives gave final approval to Oklahoma’s nearly $9.7 billion budget plan.
The bill provides significant budget increases for many state agencies But some of the larger agencies, including the Department of Education, will be held relatively flat. (You can read, or check out some graphics I built, about who are the big winners and and losers in my latest for Oklahoma Watch).
The approval of the budget, along with passing several other related spending measures, essentially finishes the Legislature’s work for the 2022 general session.
But there remains a looming question: Will Gov. Kevin Stitt sign the bill?
While it’s not always the case, traditionally House and Senate leaders have worked with the governor’s office to craft the spending measure over weeks, if not months.
Despite legislative leaders and the governor sharing the same party affiliation, that wasn’t the case this year.
As Oklahoma Watch‘s Paul Monies reported last week, the governor’s office said Gov. Kevin Stitt saw the final budget agreement for the first time late on May 16, just a day before the budget was unveiled to the public.
The governor will now have several options: He can sign it, let it take effect without his signature, veto it all outright or use line-item vetoes to nix parts he doesn’t care for. Since the Legislature did not officially close out the session Friday, the governor will have to decide before 5 p.m. Friday, which is the sine die deadline to end the nearly four-months long session.
If the governor does veto the bill, it could set up a repeat of 2020, when the Legislature voted to override the governor’s veto of the general appropriations bill that year, along with other legislation.
What do you think should happen? If you have had a chance to look at the budget, let me know if you think it should pass or if the Legislature should be sent back to the drawing board. Let me know what you think by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or finding me on Twitter at @tbrownokc.
It’s never too early to take a look at what will be on your ballot for Oklahoma’s upcoming primary election.
To see what races you will be voting on, depending on your location and party affiliation, check out Oklahoma State Election Board’s voter portal.
What I’m Reading This Week
- Oklahoma lawmakers on Thursday approved a bill prohibiting all abortions with few exceptions. Providers said they would stop performing the procedure as soon as the governor signs. [Associated Press]
- A bill that would require students to use the restroom that corresponds with the sex listed on their birth certificate was advanced by the Legislature on Thursday. [Tulsa World]
- One of the subcontractors hired by Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen to renovate state park restaurants in 2021 was simultaneously in the process of completing construction on the home of a Swadley family member, according to state and county records. [NonDoc]
- Thousands of dollars’ worth of free meals were given to Oklahoma lawmakers — not at the taxpayers’ expense, but from outside lobbyists, according to a new report by Clean Up Oklahoma. [KFOR]
- Oklahoma lawmakers on Thursday approved up to $350,000 in payments to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s legal counsel on tribal affairs. [Oklahoman]
Oklahoma needs high-quality investigative journalism. That is our mission at Oklahoma Watch. We produce stories that hold government and public officials accountable and that make transparent what some prefer to keep secret. We depend on financial support from readers like you to sustain our coverage. Help us make a difference.