For Immediate Release
Secretary Preston Doerflinger Responds to Legislature
Oklahoma City, Nov. 1, 2017 — Secretary of Finance, Administration and Information Technology Preston Doerflinger issued this statement responding to Legislature’s plans to fund state agencies:
“Perpetuating the theory that providing a small amount of funding to help agencies with the promise we can come back during regular session blatantly disregards the balanced budget requirement set in our constitution.
“I am firmly of the opinion that the constitution requires Oklahoma to maintain a balanced budget, thereby not allowing the Legislature to “float” agencies until the Legislature returns. If appropriated funding is insufficient to maintain service levels provided in agencies’ original FY 2018 budgets, then reducing service levels is the only option left for those agencies.
Turning a blind eye to the single provision that separates us from the lawlessness of the federal budget only dooms us to fall ever deeper into a fiscal crisis.
“The Legislature has the opportunity to fill the budget hole and end the uncertainty for these agencies, or they can choose to leave their work unfinished, causing devastating cuts to core services. But let there be no doubt, there is no pause button for agencies to hit until the Legislature returns in 2018. Agencies will have to start balancing their budgets again with whatever the Legislature appropriates to them in Special Session. To not move forward with a balanced budget would be a flagrant disregard for the Oklahoma Constitution and an insult to the people of this state.
“Using their own inability to provide stable revenue to these agencies is not an appropriate defense for violating the constitution. The public should be warned that if the Legislature were to act under these circumstances, this surely would not be the last time they will choose to disregard our state constitution.
“The executive branch stands ready to abide by the state constitution and implement a balanced budget regardless of the Legislature’s actions in special session.