GOP-led Oklahoma Legislature agrees on largest-ever budget with little input from governor

May 24, 2023, 3:25 PM | Updated: 3:32 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Republican leaders in Oklahoma, who control every lever of political power in the state, unveiled their largest-ever budget proposal this week, the result of bruising negotiations that left the GOP governor fuming and even some Democrats happy with what it included.

The $13 billion state budget, a nearly 20% increase over last year’s final spending plan, did not include one of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s top priorities of cutting the state’s income or grocery sales tax. House and Senate leaders also apparently blindsided the governor by voting to extend tobacco compacts with several Oklahoma-based Native American tribes that Stitt was hoping to renegotiate to get a better deal for the state.

Stitt’s office didn’t immediately comment Wednesday on the spending plan that easily passed the House and is expected to clear the Senate on Thursday. But during a press availability last week, Stitt said he was continuing to urge the Legislature to cut the state’s top income tax rate by 0.25%.

“I implore the Legislature to do what’s right and let’s give some of that back to the taxpayer,” Stitt said.

Instead, the budget deal included a more modest elimination of the state franchise tax on businesses and a tax break for joint filers that are expected to cost a total of $70 million annually when fully implemented.

Stitt also said he was caught completely off guard when lawmakers unveiled a bill last week to extend the existing tribal compacts that he wanted to renegotiate.

“This has never been talked about the whole entire session. The governor had no idea about it,” Stitt said. “Really, really disappointing.”

Anticipating the possibility that the governor could veto the budget proposal, lawmakers convened a concurrent special session that would allow them to return to the Capitol early next month to override any vetoes by the governor.

Although House Democrats voted against the plan, it clearly included priorities they support, like six weeks of paid maternity leave for state employees, $215 million in new funding to incentivize the construction of affordable housing, pay raises for teachers and money for a popular culture museum in Tulsa.

“I’ve been in this building long enough to know that I’m not going to get a better deal,” said Rep. Forrest Bennett, a Democrat from Oklahoma City. “I had conversations with people on both sides of the aisle about voting yes.”

Republican leaders and the governor had already agreed earlier this month on an education funding package that included pay raises of up to $6,000 annually, $625 million in new recurring funding for public schools and a voucher-style tax credit program for families who home-school their children or send them to private schools.

The hefty price tag of the overall budget left some of the Legislature’s more conservative Republicans questioning whether they would support the plan.

“It’s going to be tough for me,” said Sen. Rob Standridge, a Republican from Norman who said, despite representing a community with the state’s flagship University of Oklahoma, he was particularly bothered by the nearly $130 million boost in spending for higher education.

“It is the biggest, bulkiest, most spend-happy budget I’ve ever been a part of,” said Standridge, who was elected to office in 2012 when the total state budget was $6.8 billion. “All Republicans put on their placards: decrease the size of government, limit spending. We all do that. And this year is certainly not doing that.”

Also included in this year’s spending plan was $145 million to provide improvements to an industrial park in eastern Oklahoma with the hopes of luring a Panasonic manufacturing facility. The Legislature already approved a $698 million incentive package to try and land a second plant after Panasonic chose Kansas for a manufacturing facility last year.


Follow Sean Murphy on Twitter: @apseanmurphy

National News

Associated Press

Police investigating shooting near beach boardwalk in Hollywood, Florida

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — Police are responding to a shooting near the beach broadwalk in Hollywood, Florida. Nine people were injured, police said. No deaths have been reported. A preliminary investigation shows that an altercation between two groups resulted in gunfire, police said. One person has been detained and another suspect is being still being […]

19 hours ago

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, top left, bows for prayer in the Senate Chamber at the Texas Capitol in...

Associated Press

Impeachment trial of Texas’ Ken Paxton to begin no later than August 28

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A historic impeachment trial in Texas to determine whether Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton should be permanently removed from office will begin no later than August in the state Senate, where the jury that would determine his future could include his wife, Sen. Angela Paxton. Ken Paxton was immediately suspended from […]

19 hours ago

Associated Press

Teenager walks at brain injury event weeks after getting shot in head for knocking on wrong door

Ralph Yarl — a Black teenager who was shot in the head and arm last month after mistakenly ringing the wrong doorbell — walked at a brain injury awareness event Monday in his first major public appearance since the shooting. The 17-year-old suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was shot while trying to pick […]

19 hours ago

Associated Press

Motorist with sign claiming to have an explosive device drives to Canadian border

HOULTON, Maine (AP) — The driver of vehicle with a sign indicating there was an explosive device on board led Maine State Police on a chase on Interstate 95 to the Canadian border on Monday, officials said. A trooper fired shots after the motorist attempted to maneuver the truck toward the Canadian port of entry […]

19 hours ago

FILE - Los Angeles Sparks forward Dearica Hamby (5) drives to the basket while being guarded by Pho...

Associated Press

Pregnancy and sports a challenging combination for female professional athletes

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Pro soccer player Jess McDonald was traded across six teams in her first five years as a single parent, making it difficult to find, let alone afford, child care in new cities. She and her then-8-month-old son were often forced to share a hotel room with a teammate — and sometimes […]

19 hours ago

Associated Press

Site of Oakland warehouse fire that killed 36 sold to community group

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A converted artists’ warehouse in Oakland that burned down in 2016, killing 36 people, was quietly razed this month in preparation for possible development into badly needed low-income housing. The property that housed the Ghost Ship warehouse was acquired by The Unity Council, a nonprofit community development organization based in Oakland. […]

19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

GOP-led Oklahoma Legislature agrees on largest-ever budget with little input from governor