Frustration, disappointment expressed after Oklahoma lawmakers fail to reach budget agreement

By: Rick Maranon

Updated:

Hope turned to outrage and fear for many after a "grand bargain" to close Oklahoma's more than $215 million budget hole, while also raising teacher pay, failed by five votes in the state House of Representatives this week.

RELATED STORY: Oklahoma revenue bill fails in State House

Shawna Mott-Wright, vice president of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association, said she believes big oil killed the bill because of the gross production tax increase in it.

"They don't work for big oil," she said. "They work for us, and those who can't stand up for us should be voted out a year from now."

Mott-Wright said despite there being efforts to put the gross production tax increase on the next general election ballot, she believes that effort will be attacked by energy companies and others in similar ways that killed a penny sales tax for teachers off last year.

In addition to educators being furious, health care advocates are now concerned that programs the state contracts out to for a variety of services, including mental health, will now have to cut down programs and even shut their doors.

Michael Brose, CEO at the Oklahoma Mental Health Association of Tulsa, told FOX23 that certain closures could mean life or death for those struggling with mental illness, especially those needing help with getting counseling and prescriptions.

Brose said most lawmakers in the Oklahoma House understood the importance of passing the bill touted as a grand bargain, but for those that didn't, mental health care advocates are now trying to push out the names of the lawmakers who voted against the package deal.

Some conservative lawmakers did not vote for the bill because they saw it as an overall tax increase against their values and positions they campaigned on.

Some moderate and liberal lawmakers did not vote for the bill because they felt that the gross production tax hike being offered wasn't high enough, and other taxes in the bill were an attack on middle class and working families.


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