By Rep. Scott Fetgatter
scott fetgatterDiscouraged, disappointed, and even a little disgusted – These are words that come to mind when I think about the recent vote on House Bill 1054x. I haven’t written as much lately out of fear that by the time it would be published we would be out of this special session. After watching members of both sides of the isle cower away from their responsibility to fund state agencies and ensure the needs of Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens are met, I feel safe that this message will get to you before we figure out a solution to end this special session.
I supported House Bill 1054x because it provided a fair approach at generating much needed revenue that our core services are depending on to operate. It balanced the burden between wealthy corporations and average Oklahomans. It funded a teacher pay raise of $3,000, a $1,000 state employee raise, and restored the state’s earned income tax credit. It also provided an opportunity for lawmakers to move away from one-time funding for state services and provide a more stable future for Oklahomans.
For all of its defects, House Bill 1054x did a lot of good for a lot of people in Oklahoma, and it failed 71-26.
If you are curious about why a piece of legislation that received 71 votes didn’t pass, its due to State Question 640 that was passed in 1992. The state question requires any revenue raising measure to require a three-fourths vote to pass the House of Representatives. In the 101 member Oklahoma House of Representatives, that number is 76. So, for example, if you have a group of 26 legislators that refuse to raise revenue, regardless the reason, it can’t be done.
After the vote, Gov. Mary Fallin made her stance clear when she said that she would veto more draconian cuts to agencies and that she would keep us here until Christmas if need be. I hope she sticks to her word. Moving forward, I’m not sure what is going to happen. I don’t know what the solution will be, and I don’t know what it will mean for Oklahomans. The best I can commit to you right now is that I will continue doing what I have since the moment I stepped foot in the Capitol, which is fight for you. If a solution is put on the board that funds agencies and avoids deeper agency cuts, I will once again vote yes.
As always, I consider it a great joy in life to serve you in the Oklahoma Legislature. If you have questions, concerns or feedback, please reach out to my office at (405)557-7373.