Fallin disappoints budget chairman

Oklahoma House Appropriations and Budget Chairman Kevin Wallace said he is disappointed that Gov. Mary Fallin has notified three state agencies that they will begin receiving reduced monthly appropriations.

Fallin announced on Facebook this month that the Office of Management and Enterprise Services has sent letters to three agencies – the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Department of Human Services and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority – notifying them that beginning next month they will receive reduced monthly allocations.

Fallin blamed the cuts on the Legislature for not having an agreement in place yet to address the $215 million hole created in August when the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a cigarette cessation fee passed by the Legislature in May.

Wallace, however, said the cuts are premature and that all three agencies have notified him that they can continue to provide services without interruption for several more months.

Wallace has been notified – in writing – that the agencies can provide full services to the following dates before cuts are necessary: the Department of Mental Health – December 1, 2017; the Health Care Authority – January 31, 2018; the Department of Human Services – April 1, 2018.

“It is clear that the agencies believe they can continue to provide full services and programs to Oklahomans for several months beyond today, so I can only assume these efforts are intended to put pressure on the Legislature to pass the cigarette tax,” said Wallace, R-Wellston.

“These cuts are unnecessary at this point. Despite all the rhetoric, we have plenty of time to pass a sensible plan that addresses this budget hole in an equitable way.”