You’re making a difference, but we need to keep the pressure on

Where We’re At

you-did-thatIt’s clear that your advocacy has made a difference in Oklahoma’s state budget. Your advocacy helped prevent cuts to the sales tax relief credit and the child tax credit. Funding for common education and Medicaid would have been much worse if legislators hadn’t heard from you. Unfortunately, our lawmakers didn’t protect education and Medicaid by using all the sensible revenue options that they have. They did it by shifting the cuts — to higher education, to Health Departments, to the arts, to veterans hospitals, to safety net programs, and more.

Today Oklahoma Policy Institute shared the news that Oklahoma lawmakers’ budget plan leaves the Oklahoma Department of Human Services $103 million in the hole — and the Department says that will require cutting protections for vulnerable adults, shutting down child care subsidies, longer waits for food and utility assistance, and vanishing supports for Oklahomans with developmental disabilities. Republican Rep. Jason Nelson even predicts that proposed cuts to DHS “will lead to new lawsuits similar to the one that resulted in court-ordered changes to the state’s child welfare system.”

Oklahoma’s mental health department is short $20 million in this budget deal. That means deep cuts to mental health providers won’t be reversed, 73,000 Oklahomans will see their services slashed by half or more, and we’ll have even less treatment in a state that is near the worst in the nation for rates of mental illness.

And lawmakers saved the worst cuts for higher education, which will lead to large tuition hikes, eliminated college classes, and damage to Oklahoma’s economy for years to come.

What You Can Do

There’s still hope that we can do better this year. The budget deal is scheduled to be voted on in the House this Friday. If you haven’t already, click here to tell your Representative and Governor Fallin: Reject this budget and find the revenues to make a better budget!

If you have already contacted your legislators, you can still help spread the word. You can share this video where OK Policy analyst DeVon Douglass breaks down how budget advocacy is making a difference and what we still need to do. You can point your friends and colleagues to the take action letter. You can visit the state Capitol and tell your legislators face to face what their decisions about the budget will mean for the people they are supposed to represent.

 It’s a tough year in Oklahoma, but we’re hopeful because of the many citizen advocates like you who are planting the seeds for a better future.