Senate Democratic Leader John Sparks, D-Norman, issued the following comments on a lawsuit filed Tuesday asking the Supreme Court to order the governor to return $140.8 million in “extra money” that was “found” by the governor’s fiscal staff back to the state agencies from where it was cut:
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—we don’t have to pass a new law to determine how and where these funds should be spent. We passed a budget in May of 2015 which directed how these funds were to be spent. The governor and her staff are over-stepping their authority by continuing to withhold these funds. The governor’s finance team needs to simply distribute these funds to the agencies for which they were originally appropriated. This is not a difficult problem to solve—just follow the law, and distribute the funds to the agencies who suffered unlawful and unauthorized cuts.
“This is another example of the Republicans at the state Capitol not following even their own laws. Instead, the burden is on hard working Oklahomans to hold the governor, her fiscal staff, and the Republican leadership at the Capitol accountable.
“Thousands of Oklahomans across our state are suffering under the weight of the massive budget cuts forced on our state agencies, from foster families and guardians who need the most basic health and safety services which no longer have funding; to teachers who received pink slips; to corrections staff working in unsafe, understaffed conditions.
“It is long past time for the governor, her fiscal staff, and the Republicans in the Legislature to stop trying to play politics with these funds and simply give it back to the agencies that desperately need this funding and received what we now know were unnecessary, damaging budget cuts.”—Senate Democratic Leader John Sparks, D-Norman