State Budget Stronger, But Caution Urged
On Wednesday, the state Board of Equalization certified an estimated $612 million in new funding for the upcoming budget year (FY 2020), an 8 percent increase. The Board of Equalization determines the certified amount of revenue available to spend, which this year will be $8.3 billion. This funding represents a significant improvement over last year’s budget, which resulted in sizable tax hikes and agency cuts.

“This is excellent news for the state of Oklahoma,” said Governor Fallin. “The actions taken at the Capitol the last two years established a much more stable financial position for our state.”

However, multiple state leaders— including Fallin —urged caution. 

“Even though the preliminary estimate shows growing revenue, there are many existing obligations and priorities heading into next year,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat. Senate Appropriations Chairman Roger Thompson noted that while some agencies were still in the process of submitting their budgets, the amount of budget increases requested by agencies already surpasses the total amount of estimated new revenue . 

Governor-elect Kevin Stitt advised against pet projects and stressed the importance of increasing dollars for the Rainy Day fund to protect the state during economic downturns: “I also want to warn the Legislature and the agency heads — this is not a blank check.”

Contact: Mike Jackson
Ruling on Affordable Care Act in Texas
A federal judge from the Northern District of Texas ruled late last week that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in its entirety is unconstitutional. The case before U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor was brought by a group of state attorneys general and other plaintiffs and focuses on the law’s individual mandate. Back in 2012, the United States Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate based on Congress’s power to tax.

However, Congress took action in 2017 to remove the penalty associated with the individual mandate. Judge O’Connor ruled that the individual mandate cannot be severed from the rest of the ACA, resulting in an invalidation of the full law.

“The individual mandate is so interwoven with the ACA’s regulations that they cannot be separated. None of them can stand,” the judge wrote in a 55-page opinion. To review the full opinion, click here .

The ruling will likely be appealed for further consideration.

Contact: Emily Shipley
Legislature Announces Committee Assignments and Leadership Roles
Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat and Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd released Senate committee assignments earlier this month, and Speaker of the House Charles McCall announced House committee chair and vice chair appointments this week. The legislature will convene for a Legislative Organizational Day on Tuesday, January 8, 2019. The first day of the 1 st session of the 57 th Legislature is Monday, February 4, 2019. In addition to committee assignments, both chambers have announced their full leadership teams for 2019. Speaker McCall and House Minority Leader Emily Virgin will make full committee assignments in early 2019.

Click here for a full list of Senate committee assignments, and the Senate majority and minority leadership list is available here . To explore the House committee chairs and vice chairs, click here . The House majority and minority leadership list is also available.

Contact: Mike Jackson
In the News
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