405-778-4800
Criminal Attorney Oklahoma Defense Lawyer Adam R. Banner OKLAHOMA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY AT LAW
This Attorney is Lead Counsel Rated. Click here for more Information.

Strapped Oklahoma DHS to Offer Buyouts

18-Jan-2016

A notorious state budget shortfall is crippling already financially strapped schools and state agencies. Oklahoma is experiencing a $900 million budget shortfall, with more cuts to be expected. For schools, this means mid-year budget cuts of nearly $47 million over the next six months. Oklahoma schools already ranks at the bottom of the nation in per-pupil spending, and the state has cut the education budget by nearly 23 percent since 2008--more than any other state in the nation.

But schools aren't the only ones who will be affected by the catastrophic budget failure. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections--which is currently staffed at only 60 percent largely because of low pay for guards and insufficient funds to fully staff prisons--will have to cut $11.8 million.

And the Oklahoma Department of Human Services--which has long struggled and has been subject to federal lawsuits in order to ensure quality care for Oklahoma children--will have to improve child welfare to meet the terms of the settlement with an $18.7 million cut over the next six months. Over the next 18 months, that number skyrockets to $68 million in cuts.

To handle these cuts, DHS is offering buyouts for employees. According to news reports, the agency has not set a limit to the number of employees who can participate in the buyouts and hopes "several hundred employees will take advantage of the voluntary buyout."

Several hundred employees in an agency where many social workers already have too heavy a case load and child welfare workers are criticized nationally for letting children slip through the cracks. 

The agency insists that the buyout will not affect the services it provides, saying that DHS has instituted a hiring freeze for all positions except child welfare specialists. With more than 10,500 children in Oklahoma in need of DHS services, cutting these numbers further would directly impact many underprivileged, abuses, and neglected children in the state.

DHS also says that it will cut contracts related to training and professional services--not to individual services, Medicaid, child welfare, or programs for the elderly or developmentally disabled. 

And when determining where to cut, DHS says it will pull from programs where they have "overbudgeted."

So what can DHS employees who participate in the voluntary buyout expect?

  • A payment based on years of service ranging from a minimum of $5,000 to a maximum of $10,000. 
  • A payment equal to 18 months of the employee-only health premium. 
  • The employee's next longevity payment that would have been received after separation. 
  • A payment of the employee's accumulated vacation hours in accordance with state policy.
  • A separation date of March 15

Additionally, those eligible for retirement will have until January 27 to file for a retirement date of April 1.

The agency admits that it does not know whether the buyouts will be sufficient to avoid layoffs in the coming months.

Although DHS continues to reiterate that it will deal with the budget cuts in a way that minimizes impact on individual services, it seems impossible that a shortfall of this magnitude will not have a direct impact on Oklahomans in need of help.



All News

More News

No Charges in MWC Home Invasion Shooting
24-Jul-2017

The Oklahoma County District Attorney's Office has announced that ..

Couple Arrested after Reportedly Abusing Child and Making Him Shoplift
21-Jul-2017

A man and woman in Rogers County, Oklahoma, have been arrested on ..

Tulsa Tire Store Employee Accused of Sexually Assaulting Customer
17-Jul-2017

An employee of a Tulsa tire store has been arrested on a sexual ba..

Man Sentenced in Shooting of Valley Brook Police Officer
14-Jul-2017

An Oklahoma City man who shot a Valley Brook police officer on New..

No Restrictions on Oklahoma Sex Offender Moving Next Door to Victim
10-Jul-2017

Oklahoma places a lot of residency restrictions on convicted sex o..

Norman Father Arrested in Daughter's Shooting Death
07-Jul-2017

Just before dawn on June 29, a Norman man called 9-1-1 to report t..

Man's Child Abuse Charge Upgraded to Murder
03-Jul-2017

An Oklahoma City man charged with child abuse after his infant nep..

Garvin County Man Sentenced for Sexually Abusing Neighbor
30-Jun-2017

A man convicted in February of sexually assaulting a 5-year-old ne..

Oklahoma Man Accused of Attempting to Kill Cousin, Then Hiring an Escort
26-Jun-2017

An Oklahoma man who allegedly tried to kill his cousin in an arson..

Supreme Court Ruling Says Trademark Law Barring Offensive Names Infringes on Free Speech
23-Jun-2017

You have likely never heard of Asian American rock band the Slants..

×