OPEA Tells Legislators to VOTE NO on Proposed Budget

A draft budget has been released and OPEA is telling lawmakers to VOTE NO on it. It is very damaging to some state agencies especially DHS who will have to make significant program and personnel cuts. We just sent out this press release to media across the state. We urge all state employees and consumers of services to call their lawmaker and tell the to VOTE NO on the proposed budget. DO IT TODAY


The Oklahoma Public Employees Association (OPEA) asks lawmakers to defeat the current proposed 2017 budget agreement released today because it is detrimental to core services used by Oklahomans across the state. The association says DHS services will be cut severely and the potential exists for cuts in several other agencies.

“This budget agreement is bad for Oklahomans who rely on services provided by DHS and other agencies,” says OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley. The agreement is more about election year politics than serving Oklahomans. Leadership is saying they protected services but significant cuts will still be implemented because agencies are underfunded. We need lawmakers to stand up and vote no on this budget.”

The Department of Public Safety, Rehabilitation Services, Department of Veterans Affairs all will receive fewer dollars under the agreed budget and it does not restore DHS funds that were cut during two FY2016 revenue failures. The Department of Corrections’ 2017 appropriation remains the same but no funds were provided to support the agency’s infrastructure needs or help with overcrowded prisons.

“Legislators failed to take the opportunity to sufficiently increase recurring revenue to take care of Oklahoma’s current needs at corrections, DHS and other agencies,” Zearley said. “Instead, they tapped the rainy day fund and used bond money to pay for ongoing expenses. This means that services are underfunded now and next year we will start out in the red.”

OPEA supported initiatives to raise cigarette taxes, reduce wind energy tax credits and roll back previously enacted income tax during the session but those measures were not heard or they failed to pass.

“This budget makes DHS cut direct services to seniors, at-risk families and persons with disabilities. There will be delays in approval of benefits, child care assistance for working families will be frozen, and financial exploitation of seniors won’t be investigated. Also, senior centers and home-delivered meals will be closed or reduced. This is just at DHS. We haven’t heard how the other agencies will respond, but it won’t be good,” Zearley said.

DHS officials have said the agency may also lay off another 200 to 700 employees and close multiple county offices. They have already announced plans to close one Oklahoma County office and several child support services offices.

“Our legislators should do the right thing and reject this budget, “Zearley said. “Then they can work on a better funding plan that doesn’t rely on one-time funding to provide these vital services. Even if that means a special session, it is worth it.”


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