Time is now to fix budget problems

The eyes of the state are on 23rd and Lincoln, and there is a growing chorus of citizens, educators, business owners and more who are awaiting a permanent solution to Oklahoma’s seemingly endless cycle of budget shortfalls and failures.

Throughout the regular session of one year ago, and the initial special session last fall, I and an overwhelming majority of the Senate supported measures that would help Oklahoma address these budget woes and correct the problems in the budget process.

However, as you know, those efforts ultimately did not garner the support required by the full Legislature.

So now here we are – faced with meeting those responsibilities in a second special session called after the first special session last fall failed to produce much needed solutions.

As it turns out, this second special session will run concurrently with the 2018 regular session. There may be days when we meet in session, work on legislation, then adjourn for the day, but then immediately reconvene in special session to deal with legislation pertaining to that agenda.

One thing that’s different from this time a year ago is that we have had a coalition of Oklahomans come forward offering their own solutions for stabilizing the budget and correcting problems in the budgeting procedures that have contributed to the current situation.

The organization, Step Up Oklahoma, includes business owners from many segments of our economy. It includes municipal organizations and leaders, tribal officials, educators and more.

Those endorsing this effort from Senate District 13 include the Ada Chamber of Commerce and Gov. Bill Anoatubby of the Chickasaw Nation. Many of the Step Up Oklahoma Proposals have been included in measures making their way through the legislative process.

Legislation can change dramatically from the time it is first introduced compared to what it looks like in committee and on the floor – I will make my decisions on those bills as I see those versions come before us.

One thing is certain – kicking the can down the roadis simply not an option! This is a problem that will only worsen if it is not decisively addressed.

It will require all of us putting the greater good of our state and its citizens first as we look for permanent solutions to fix our budget, invest in education and other core services, increase accountability, and lay the groundwork for an Oklahoma that can truly meet our greatest hopes and expectations. I am committed to that effort.

I am honored to serve you in the Oklahoma State Senate. If you have a question about a legislative matter, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (405) 521-5541 or by email at mccortney@oksenate.gov.

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