Due to an estimated budget shortfall of more than $10 million dollars, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has announced a series of actions to reduce spending immediately.
The agency is experiencing continued revenue shortfalls due to loss of federal funds, increased costs of providing services and reductions in annual state appropriation.
“Since federal funds are nearly 60% of the OSDH budget, reductions in federal funds at the same time we are experiencing state budget shortfalls make for a perfect storm,” said Julie Cox-Kain, OSDH Senior Deputy Commissioner.
“We are grateful to the Legislature and Governor for trying to minimize budget cuts to the department. Between SFY 2017 and 2018 the OSDH only received a 2.8% reduction in state funds.” said Cox-Kain. “However, the cumulative annual reduction in state appropriation to the OSDH since 2009 is 29.24%.”
Starting with the October 30, 2017 pay period, OSDH personnel will be furloughed one day without pay during the two week cycle. No employee making $35,000 per year or less will be affected, but all other personnel will be subject to the furlough. The October 30 effective date is required by law to provide staff with a 30-day notice. The furlough is a short term measure until long term budget reduction can be enacted and has been approved through June 30, 2018.
The furloughs will impact local health departments, including the Pottawatomie County Health Department.
In addition, a Voluntary Out Benefit Offer (VOBO) is being prepared to reduce staffing levels statewide. The plan is not yet finalized but will be announced to employees in the coming weeks.
The current budget reductions taken by OSDH are independent of any additional budget cuts for SFY ’18 that may occur as a result of legislative action during the special session.