Budget Update May 13, 2024

Wednesday, 15 May 2024 07:26

Budget Update May 13, 2024 Featured

Written by Rep. Eddy Dempsey
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House and Senate budget leaders met twice last week with the Governor for budget summits. The first meeting was largely unproductive because of the Senate's last-minute changes to the process, a change in that chamber's appropriation chair, and the pro tem's unwillingness to let his body take a vote on a personal income tax cut. 

The second meeting was somewhat more productive, but we're still a long way from a final agreement. We must figure out how to spend the roughly $13 billion available for Fiscal Year 2025. Things are different in the budget process this year. The Senate announced earlier this year that they were adopting a new transparent process, which has led to delays.

The good news is that we have finally scheduled a bunch of Joint Committee on Appropriations & Budget meetings. This is where budget legislation actually gets introduced, so this is progress. Legislation must pass in the joint committee before being voted on by each chamber. We hope to have a budget agreement soon because there is a time constraint due to the complexity of drafting a comprehensive appropriations bill.

The Senate needs to strike a deal within the next five days to keep its "transparency" initiatives and have the power to override potential vetoes by the Governor. If not, the Governor will have the authority to craft his own budget with his line-item veto power, and the legislature will have limited options to counter it. 

We can extend our deadline, but doing so would require making sacrifices. For instance, we would have to give our staff less time to complete the GA bill. We may also need to drop bills in the conference committee instead of JCAB, which is the least transparent way to do the budget.

While I like the transparency being offered to the public, the Senate's constant changing of the process this late in the game – combined with a last-minute switch in that chamber's budget chair – is slowing the process when we don't have much time left in the legislative session. We're constitutionally required to sine die by 5 p.m. the last Friday in May, and achieving a balanced budget is our one constitutional duty each year. 

As always, please feel free to reach out with any legislation-related concerns. I can be reached at (405) 557-7363 or eddy.dempsey@okhouse.gov.

Dempsey, a Republican, is in his second term representing House District 1. His district includes McCurtain County and southern Le Flore County.

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