$215 Million in Potential Cuts Will Devastate Services for Children and Families
The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) today called on lawmakers to address the $215 million in state funding lost after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled a new cigarette fee to be unconstitutional. The loss of the cigarette fee immediately blows a hole into the budgets of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA), the Department of Human Services (DHS), and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (DMHSAS), leaving the agencies with no way to cover the costs of core services.
OICA CEO Joe Dorman said Governor Fallin and the State Legislature should quickly convene a special session to ensure that children and other Oklahomans are not the victims of a new budget hole.
“Because of the haphazard way this year’s budget was crafted, the state has now essentially defunded the agencies responsible for Oklahoma’s adoption and foster care programs, for child health and nutrition, for mental health services that keep families safe and intact, and for basic access to medical care. That is an outcome that can satisfy exactly no one, regardless of your political party or your priorities.
“Our policymakers have a moral imperative to fix this problem and to ensure that children, families and the senior citizens who rely on these services are not the victims of poor budget-writing,” said Dorman. “The intention of the Legislature was to adjourn having funded these agencies, however imperfectly it was done. They need to keep their promises to their constituents by coming back to the Capitol for a special session and creating a new budget that adequately funds core government services.”