Governor's budget proposal includes tax cut, some funding increases
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
2/05/13 at 7:16 AM
The Capitol Report is home to
all the reporting on 2013 Oklahoma
Fallin explains her alternative to health-care law, endorses ability of cities to set own smoking regulations
Fallin calls for tax cut, hikes in education, DHS and mental health budgets
OKLAHOMA CITY - Child welfare, Medicaid, mental health and a quarter-point reduction in the top personal income tax rate soak up most of the growth revenue in Gov. Mary Fallin's budget proposal for fiscal year 2014.
Spending totals $6.95 billion in the proposal, which initiates the budget and appropriations process that is expected to end with a final agreement in May.
"We fully understand the Legislature may have its own priorities," said Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger, who presented Fallin's budget Monday afternoon. "We are ready to work with the Legislature."
Fallin also asks for supplemental appropriations of $10 million for repairs to the Capitol's exterior and an engineering study to determine the cost of thoroughly renovating the 99-year-old building, plus $8.5 million for state educators' benefit plan. Supplemental appropriations come from current year's surplus and are not part of the 2014 spending plan.
The proposed tax cut would cost the state about $125 million a year, including $105 million that would otherwise go to the general fund.
Doerflinger said the proposal uses "no tricks, no gimmicks" to get to its bottom line, but Democrats and other critics said cutting taxes without putting much or any more money into education, corrections and other areas of state government still doesn't add up.
"I met with Gov. Fallin last week and told her face-to-face, 'If we had followed your lead (on taxes last year), we would have had serious budget holes," said House Democratic leader Scott Inman, D-Del City.
Except for Treasurer Ken Miller, who asked for a $190,000 budget cut, no state agency would get a cut in base funding under Fallin's proposal. Several, though, including the Oklahoma State University Medical Center ($5.6 million) and the University of Oklahoma's Wayman Tisdale Specialty Health Center ($3 million), both in Tulsa, would lose one-time or limited-time funding.
The budget also would zero out the $2 million that passed through the Department of Agriculture last year to Oklahoma City's Youth Expo, a junior livestock show. The funding became the subject of a hot dispute and ultimately a lawsuit over its legality, since the appropriating bill indicates that the $2 million was for legal fees.
Fallin's chief of staff, Denise Northrup, said the $2 million was a one-time expenditure and that not including it in this year's budget was unrelated to the lawsuit or controversy.
Corrections, which had asked for an additional $67 million, is tabbed for only $1 million in new funds. Doerflinger suggested that the department has overstated its needs, and Northrup said it would get no money above currently budgeted amounts for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a program that began last year to counter overcrowding and recidivism in the state's prison system.
Northrup said any new money for the program would go through the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
For fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1, Fallin proposes spending $120.2 million more than was appropriated for the current budget year, an increase of 1.8 percent.
The biggest funding bump, $50.6 million, would go to the Department of Human Services, largely for implementation of child welfare reforms. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority would get an additional $40 million, largely because the number of people eligible for Medicaid is expected to increase even if the state does not implement the expanded Medicaid coverage that is part of the Affordable Care Act.
Mental health would get $16 million for a variety of programs, including an additional crisis center, counseling services, prescription drug addiction prevention and treatment, and suicide prevention.
Education would get $13.5 million, entirely for implementation of existing reforms. While one of the larger increases, it fell far short of the $300 million state Superintendent Janet Barresi had requested. It also seemed to fly in the face of Fallin's own State of the State promise to emphasize science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.
Doerflinger disagreed, saying that if the reforms "improve the system, ... the product is improved."
Higher education and CareerTech get no additional funding in Fallin's budget.
One proposal likely to get some bipartisan opposition in the Legislature is an additional $5 million for the governor's quick-closing fund, an economic development program operated through the Department of Commerce.
Two small agencies are targeted for substantial increases relative to their appropriations.
The Pardon and Parole Board, which has greater authority under a constitutional amendment approved in November, would get an additional $300,000 - an increase of 13.5 percent.
The Ethics Commission would get $125,000, an increase of 21.3 percent.
Fallin's budget includes no money for state employee raises. Rather, it proposes spending $200,000 to study state compensation.
Governor's budget proposal
FY 2014 general appropriations: $6.95 billion
Increase from FY 2013: $120.2 million
FY 2013 supplemental appropriations: $18.5 million (Capitol repairs $10 million, educators' flexible benefit plan $8.5 million)
Proposal includes: Quarter-point reduction in top personal income tax rate, increased funding for child welfare, mental health and Medicaid
Winners and losers in the governor's proposed budget
- Department of Human Services + $50.6 million
- Oklahoma Health Care Authority + $40.0 million
- Department of Mental Health + $16.0 million
- Department of Education + $13.5 million
- Commerce Department + 5.0 million
Original Print Headline: Proposed budget tops $6.9B
- OSU Medical Authority - $5.6 million
- University Hospitals - $3.0 million
- Department of Agriculture - $2.0 million
- Land Office - $798,000
- Treasurer - $190,000
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365
Gov. Mary Fallin delivers her State of the State address in the House of Representatives chamber at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City on Monday. JOHN CLANTON / Tulsa World
Rep. Pam Peterson and Sen. Nathan Dahm, both of Tulsa, chat before the governor's State of the State address Monday at the Capitol in Oklahoma City. JOHN CLANTON / Tulsa World
House Speaker T.W. Shannon calls a joint session to order in the House of Representatives chamber before the State of the State address at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City on Monday. JOHN CLANTON / Tulsa World