- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - An attorney sued Oklahoma’s governor on Tuesday over $140 million in unspent state dollars that he contends should go to state agencies.

Attorney David Slane filed the lawsuit with the Oklahoma Supreme Court on behalf of six clients who receive state services through the Department of Human Services.

“All of these families, and probably thousands of families like them, are suffering,” Slane said.

The state ended up with a $140.8 million surplus after mid-year cuts were ordered to state agency budgets amid dwindling tax collections. It turned out those cuts were deeper than necessary.

But rather than return the money to state agencies, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin and Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger (DOR’-fling-ur) have suggested a special legislative session be called to allocate the unspent money for teacher pay raises.

Fallin spokesman Michael McNutt declined to comment on the lawsuit. He says talks with legislative leaders about a special session are ongoing. A spokesman for Doerflinger also declined to comment.

One of the people who brought the lawsuit, 80-year-old Carrol Stanley of Del City, said as a result of budget cuts, in-home services that were provided by DHS to her intellectually disabled foster child were cut.

“I’m just looking for the agencies to come back in and help us with our children and do what’s right,” Stanley said. “I waited four to six months for a pair of glasses for her.”

Slane said he filed the case pro bono and that neither he nor any of the people who joined the suit are seeking financial compensation.

Fallin’s suggestion for a special session to consider spending the surplus revenue on teacher pay hikes has faced bipartisan opposition from lawmakers who maintain the money should be returned to agencies.

Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman said Tuesday he has yet to see a specific teacher pay plan and that the general consensus among most Republicans in the Senate is that the money should be reallocated to cash-strapped agencies.

Without a special session, the money would be proportionally distributed to all state agencies that receive general revenue allocations. Among the larger agencies, public schools would receive an additional $40 million, while the Health Care Authority would get about $23 million, Department of Human Services would get $16 million, and the Department of Corrections would get about $10 million.

___

Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide