DALLAS – Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin plans to call a special session of the Legislature on Sept. 25 to restore revenue lost to a state Supreme Court ruling that a funding measure passed in the last week of the 2017 session was unconstitutional.
“I am planning on calling a special session beginning Sept. 25 for legislators to adjust the current fiscal year budget,” Fallin said in a prepared statement Wednesday. “A formal call for a special session will be issued in the next few days, but I wanted to announce my intention to call a special session for planning purposes. I also want Oklahomans to know we are working diligently to address the fiscal matters of our state.”
The state’s 2018 fiscal year budget has a shortfall of $215 million as a result of last month’s Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling, which struck down a proposed smoking cessation fee that was estimated to raise that amount. The $215 million represents just state funds. With the loss of matching federal funds state agencies estimate the total is nearly $500 million.
The court ruled that the “fee” was actually a “tax” passed in the last week of the 2017 session. Under Oklahoma’s constitution, revenue raising measures cannot be considered in the last week of a legislative session.
The Republican governor has met with lawmakers from both parties in recent weeks to discuss ways to make up for the lost revenue, but no agreement has been announced.
The $215 million in cigarette tax revenue had been earmarked for three state agencies that provide health and human services.