OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin on Monday (November 6) issued the following statement after the state Senate in a bipartisan vote, 37-5, passed House Bill 1035X:
“I want to applaud the Republican and Democratic members of the state Senate for passing this measure. We have been in special session six weeks now. It is time to bring this session to an end. It is time to address the concerns of the people of Oklahoma, and to show them that leadership at the Capitol will get the job done and will take care of their fellow Oklahomans.
“This bill addresses our $215 million budget hole; provides recurring revenue to help bring more stability to our budget going forward for next year when we know that we will still have a budget hole; and provides a path for success for our state so we don’t have these budgetary ups and downs we’ve experienced the past three years. It also keeps a promise to the teachers of Oklahoma by providing a $3,000 pay raise, and a $1,000 pay raise for our state employees.
“I’m hoping now that the House of Representatives will put this measure on the board and vote for it one way or the other. Let’s find a way forward for our state. Let’s fund these important core services for our people and show the people that we can get the job done.”
The House of Representatives must approve the upper chamber’s version of H.B. 1035X before it can go to the governor for her signature.
Also on Monday, the Sooner State’s chief executive signed House Bill 1081X, which appropriates $23.3 million to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The measure, which passed overwhelmingly in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, takes the money from the state’s Constitutional Reserve Fund, commonly called the Rainy Day Fund.
The Mental Health Department lost $75 million for this fiscal year when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled a proposed cigarette smoking cessation fee was unconstitutional. The fee was estimated to bring in $215 million for the fiscal year that ends June 30.
“This measure will help avoid devastating mental health and substance abuse services cuts,” Fallin said in her signing statement. In addition to providing money for the Mental Health Department, the proposed smoking cessation fee struck down in court would have generated about $70 million to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and about $69 million to the Department of Human Services.