OKLAHOMA CITY – House Democratic Leader Scott Inman issued the following statement today after the Office of Management and Enterprise Services announced a state revenue failure requiring appropriated state agencies to take mid-year budget cuts, and reported that the budget hole next year will be almost $901 million.
“The Republican-controlled Legislature helped create this financial crisis by cutting over $1 billion in income taxes since 2004, coupled with enactment of nearly $2 billion in tax credits and exemptions.
Just a week ago Republican State Treasurer Ken Miller described repeated reductions in the state income tax as ‘devastatingly irresponsible’ considering the current funding status of core services.
Nevertheless, in two weeks Oklahoma will experience the first tax cut in state history to be enacted at a time of budget deficits. House Democrats tried repeatedly to postpone or repeal that tax cut, but every Republican in the House spurned our attempts.
The $188 million state budget gap of 2014 tripled to a budget deficit of $611 million in 2015, and the latest projection is a deficit that will be half again higher: $900.8 million.
The GOP-controlled Legislature began cutting core state services when oil was commanding $100 a barrel. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has had to slash $446 million from its budget in the past five years, adversely affecting low-income families and health care providers. Public education in Oklahoma has experienced the deepest cuts of any state in the nation.
Republicans campaigned on a platform of fiscal responsibility, but instead they have presided over fiscal insanity.
It’s long past time for this state’s Republican leaders to stop governing by a failed political philosophy and begin to govern with an understanding of political reality.
It’s disingenuous to wring one’s hands in despair when the house is on fire, if you helped light the match.”
Mike W. Ray
Media Director, House Democratic Caucus