The Oklahoma Legislature adjourned to “the call of the Chair” on Tuesday, March 17. This means the legislature will be resuming session at some point in the near future, but not this week. Amid all of the uncertainty with the coronavirus pandemic and the oil power play from the Russians and Saudis, your state legislature must focus on what it is constitutionally required to do—and that is to pass a budget.
The state cannot spend more money than it has, which is a stark contrast to our federal government that habitually borrows money for deficit spending. Our state constitution requires a balanced budget each year, and rightly so. If you have been keeping up with the price of oil and gas drop and watching the stock market fall, you can imagine how tough it is to predict how much money the state will have next year—yet a budget must be set.
Generally, budget negotiations between the House, Senate, and Governor start to really heat up in May, but we started in earnest around two weeks ago. With the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic, we have no idea when the legislature will be able to meet again. Solidifying the budget early is crucial and it is the right thing to do. All parties have been working together well and we are closing in on a budget to get us through these tough times ahead.
I encourage all of you to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously and be vigilant. Area doctors report a number of tests from our district are still pending results. Our vigilance now will have a direct effect on how many people in our district are infected later. The reason for “social distancing” is to keep the numbers of infections contained so our hospitals are not overwhelmed. I realize the ideas of quarantine and not congregating in groups of 10 or more are an affront to our concepts of liberty and freedom, but sometimes we need to act in others’ interests instead of our own.
During this uncertain time, it is important to be vigilant, but not afraid. Seek ways to serve others and support local businesses. Be intentional about helping others. You need it and others need it, too! God bless you all.
Marcus McEntire represents Oklahoma House District 50.