So all of a sudden the governor and legislative leaders are in a dispute over adding funding for one of the governor’s projects - the digital transformation fund.
According to Gov. Stitt, there was an agreement that included some $930,000 in funding for the program. Legislative leaders disagree and it was left out of $450 million in emergency funding passed last week.
Now the governor is basically holding up emergency funding for the final two months of the fiscal year because of the dispute.
He wants the legislature back in session. Legislators say they don’t need to come back and the governor should call allow the Board of Equalization to meet and declare a revenue failure, then sign the bill. Otherwise, there will be a $302 million hole and agencies will have to cut 2 to 3 percent across the board.
We don’t know what was said in meetings and what may or may not have been part of an agreement.
We do know this - a fight over one item is not worth potentially forcing cuts, especially when the funds are available and already approved.
During the recent special meeting, the legislature gave the governor sweeping emergency powers to handle the COVID-19 crisis over the next 30 days.
Lawmakers over the past couple of years have also expanded the governor’s authority in other areas, mainly relating to several key state boards.
This is a situation where the governor should take the steps needed to sign the emergency funding even if he is upset.
This funding battle can be fought again in next year’s budget talks. Doing it now only hurts Oklahomans in the middle of a crisis.