Budget Agreements for Both the State and Nation
May 29, 2023
“For the Children” Weekly Column by Joe Dorman, OICA CEO
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Joe Dorman, CEO – Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy
Telephone: (405) 833-1117
OKLAHOMA CITY – Budgets have dominated the political landscape, both at the state and federal levels over the past week.
Whether it be our state with dominant Republican control, or the national level requiring bipartisan haggling, finding solutions is difficult and it takes time to produce consensus.
The FY24 budget passed by lawmakers is $12,866,390,628. The largest area of the budget continues to be education, with $5.65 billion, or 43.9% going to educate Oklahomans. Public K-12 schools will be funded at the highest level in state history at $3.97 billion. Higher education received just over $1 billion, including a $130 million, or 14.9%, increase, the largest increase to colleges and universities in recent history.
Health remained the second largest area of investment at 18.2% of the budget for a total of $2.34 billion, much of which will be matched with federal dollars. Human services received the third largest apportionment, with 7.1%, or $909 million. Transportation and public safety make up 6.3% and 5.7%, respectively, of the state budget. The remainder of state tax collections will be distributed across the various state agencies.
The governor has 15 working days following passage of a bill during the final five days of the regular legislative session to decide whether to sign or veto a bill. However, lawmakers passed the budget in the concurrent special session, so technically the governor likely has only five working days to act on the budget as there is no definitive date for adjournment.
Since lawmakers did not adjourn the special session, they can reconvene to address any line-item vetoes the governor might make. Additionally, Governor Stitt has indicated that he would like to call lawmakers into another special session to consider some form of tax cut.
It is not just the state budget under consideration. The federal budget also has a looming deadline, and an agreement between President Joe Biden and U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy was announced over the weekend.
The deal would suspend the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling until Jan. 1, 2025, allowing the U.S. government to pay its bills. In their compromise, this two-year budget deal would reduce Federal or congressional deficits and extend beyond the next presidential election preventing the budget from being an issue during campaign season.
The agreement will also lift the country’s debt limit to prevent the federal government from defaulting. If the debt ceiling is not raised, and consequently the federal government is unable to pay its bills, the nation’s economy would go into a freefall. As many as 7.8 million Americans would lose their jobs, according to Business Insider magazine.
This agreement would temporarily freeze a portion of non-defense spending, while tightening the food stamp program’s work requirement for childless adults, but it would also expand access for veterans and the homeless. It would additionally enact modest changes to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
The agreement would also rescind a large chunk of unspent COVID relief and claw back $20 billion of the additional $80 billion invested in the Internal Revenue Service as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.
Elements of both political parties took to television to condemn parts of the deal, but in fairness, both negotiators compromised portions of their desires.
I want to thank those behind the scenes who worked on both budgets for our state and nation. It is not an easy task, but there are parts of both agreements that are good for children and families, along with our state and nation.