By Deanna Wagner
May 25, 2017
When Republicans in the House of Representatives voted narrowly to repeal and replace Obamacare earlier this month, they weren’t entirely sure of the bill’s impact on the deficit or on the millions of Americans who gained coverage through the health reform law.
Earlier in the day the upper chamber had passed a key component toward funding the state budget for fiscal year 2018.
But Rep. Steven Johnson, a Republican from Assaria who chairs the House Tax Committee, said the vote left him unsure what to try next. The Senate on Monday amended the bill, reverting it back to its original plan for three tax brackets.
Framework of Senate Bill 30 was part of a deal reached Tuesday night between House and Senate negotiators, but additional tweaking of the measure didn’t generate sufficient votes to prompt a vote before the House launched a marathon debate on a new K-12 school funding formula. It would boost income taxes, raise liquor taxes and impose the state’s sales tax on a few services that are not taxed now, such as towing, security and customized computer software.
The House’s proposed compromise – which the Senate plans to reject – would apply only to elementary and secondary schools; after it passed last weekend, Patrick and others criticized it as a change that does very little.
The measure would have raised income tax rates and eliminated an exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners.
“Let’s pass this fee today so we can decrease smoking in Oklahoma, especially amongst children”, Yen said. It wouldn’t provide any extra dollars for public schools, though Masterson said that issue could then be tackled separately. The bill barely got the simple majority, passing 52-47. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., canceled a March vote after opposition from party conservatives and moderates would have sealed its defeat, and the two wings of the GOP spent weeks blaming each other for the bill’s demise. The court didn’t set a figure for how much the state’s $4 billion in annual aid must rise, but attorneys representing school districts that sued the state have said a much larger increase is necessary.
“It is not an ideal budget, but it avoids draconian cuts to our core services such as education, health and human services, and public safety”, Fallin said. “But again, we’re willing to allow the House to move forward”.
Lawmakers were working on a legislative fix to the general appropriations bill to add $18 million for education in the form of House Bill 2360. “Unfortunately it leaves many agencies facing cuts for the sixth year in a row”.
“We’re nearly 100 days into the session and rather than address failed tax policy, some lawmakers want to eliminate the state’s entire early childhood infrastructure”, said Annie McKay, president and CEO of the nonprofit advocacy group Kansas Action for Children. “This agreement is welcome news for Oklahoma schools after a year of uncertainty and financial hardship”. David Holt, one of five Republicans who voted against the measure in committee.
The House must pass a budget bill by Friday.
The budget uses $83 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund, leaving a balance of about $100 million, said David, R-Porter.