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Where are the budget numbers? Oklahoma Senate ‘still waiting’ on House

In World
April 12, 2024

The Oklahoma Senate closed out week two of a budget stalemate with the House of Representatives Thursday, doing exactly what it said would do: stall any House budget legislation until the House sent the Senate its final budget numbers.

Wednesday, Senate budget chairman Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, again cancelled the Senate Appropriations Meeting. The legislative deadline for House bills to be heard in Senate committees is Thursday. Thompson said the Senate would continue to wait on the House’s budget proposal.

“Members, we are still waiting for the official public numbers from the honorable House of Representatives dealing with our budget,” Thompson said.

Thursday, Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, said the Senate was still waiting on House.

“We need to see if they really will get us numbers on Monday, at the latest, like they said,” Treat said. “If get us numbers on Monday we can recalibrate.”

Until that time, Treat said, the Senate would address policy bills. “Obviously we will have to use some avenue on things that are important to our caucus getting into the budget, but we haven’t made any final decisions on that.”

The ball, Treat said, was now in the House’s court.

Budget transparency and tension between the Oklahoma House and Senate

The pushback between the House and the Senate over the budget has been growing since Treat announced his budget transparency initiative in February. While the Senate leaders have made their part of the process much more open and accessible, House leaders haven’t embraced the same idea.

The matter grew even murkier when, on Wednesday afternoon, House Budget Chairman, Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, said he’d given the Senate the House budget numbers on Tuesday, with the caveat House leaders still are working with their caucus to receive final approval for those numbers before they’re made public.

More: Budget standoff at Oklahoma Legislature drags on for second week

Treat said that’s wasn’t correct. He said House leaders brought ‘preliminary numbers’ to a meeting and allowed members of the Senate to look at them but those numbers, Treat said, could not be shared.

“The House brought numbers. They said, ‘you cannot take pictures, you cannot take copies, you cannot share these with anyone,'” he said. “They said, ‘Here you can look at an incomplete and unapproved (copy).’ So it’s what the Speaker and the Appropriations Chair, I presume, want but they have not got buy-in from their caucus on those number and they said, ‘these are not what we’re actually advocating for but here’s our starting numbers.”

Thursday afternoon, House Speaker Charles McCall said the House was “very close” to finalizing their budget.

“We anticipate rolling that out the first part of next week,” he said. “We’ve had continuing communication with the Senate.”

McCall said the House budget process was ‘running ahead of schedule.’ “We should be running actual budget bills by the first full week in May,” he said.

The Second Session of the 58th Oklahoma Legislature adjourns at 5 p.m. on May 31.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Budget stalemate continues as Oklahoma House has yet to send numbers

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