For almost a decade, Oklahoma has endured several budget cuts. Very recently, state budgets were met with failure, as budget deficits of up to $2 billion or more appeared toward the end of last fiscal year and the year before. These budget crises have affected many state programs. However, programs for Oklahomans with disabilities have had a particularly rough time. Now the state legislature had delivered a record-setting state budget. How far will this new budget go to fix the deficits of the past?
Will the New Budget Benefit Oklahomans with Disabilities?
Though many people are happy to see Oklahoma pass the largest state budget in Oklahoma history, many believe it is still not enough. Decades of budget cuts, tax cuts and increasing demand for state services has left quite the hole in state finances. This can particularly be felt in the Department of Human Services and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.
These agencies sponsor many programs that help make life livable for people with disabilities here in Oklahoma. However, they have had to cope with demand increases so large that state funding hasn’t been effective. These departments, unlike many others in the state, have seen increases over the years, but those increases have not kept up with the ever-increasing population of people with disabilities.
Will the Large Budget Help?
This means that DHS and OKHCA have been falling further and further behind over the years despite budget increases. This new injection of $24.6 million in increased funds from the new budget will help address the thousands-long disability services waitlist, but some say it won’t be enough. Overall this budget increase mainly addresses employee raises all over our state’s government, making it hard to recover from the budget cuts of the past.
Advocates and experts hope that this record-breaking budget will only be the beginning, as lawmakers struggle to continue filling in the gaps left by budget crisis after budget crisis. That’s why the Tulsa disability attorneys here at Troutman & Troutman, P.C. will continue to watch future developments and let you know how they affect Oklahomans with disabilities.