Senate Democratic Leader John Sparks released the following statement:
“Today the Oklahoma Senate approved a Fiscal Year 2019 general appropriations bill that was released to the public less than forty-eight hours ago. The rush to adjourn the legislative session early provided very little opportunity for legislators to review the budget proposal and consider its full impact.
After a decade of failed tax cuts led to multiple revenue failures and devastating budget cuts, there is still much work to be done to repair the damage. The budget proposal includes an additional $17 million for the school funding formula, but state aid funding for education has been cut by $179 million since FY 2008. The appropriated funding will not address teacher shortages, reduce class sizes, or restore five day school weeks.
Instead of celebrating that the proposed budget avoids agency cuts, we should take the time to negotiate revenue measures that will allow us to really invest in education, health care, core services, and infrastructure. The legislature failed to pass a bipartisan proposal to repeal the capital gains tax deduction, which would have generated an additional $100 million. Restoring the 5.25% income tax rate could bring in an estimated $150 million annually.
The Senate Democratic Caucus is ready to continue working until we have a budget proposal that truly addresses the needs of the people of Oklahoma.”