Choctaw Nation Tribal Council approves 2020 budget; stands strong on gaming compact

Choctaw Nation
Kelsey Brown

TVSHKA HOMMA – The Choctaw Nation Tribal Council unanimously approved a $1.99 billion comprehensive budget for fiscal year 2020 during its Saturday, Sept. 14 session. The new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

On the revenue side, the budget showed a 12.35 percent increase to the general fund over the prior year along with 6.87 percent increase to health, 2.05 percent increase for housing and 1.88 percent increase to commerce. Total projected construction costs for 2020 were projected at more than $407 million, largely dedicated to the Durant Casino and Resort expansion. It is significant that 79% of expenditures are committed to member services.

Chief Gary Batton’s recent State of the Choctaw Nation address highlighted efforts to boost funds to higher education, services to elders and continued improvements to the health system that garnered nearly a million visits this fiscal – all of which were addressed in the Tribal Council’s approved budget.

In other business, the Choctaw Nation Tribal Council passed a resolution showing solidarity on the Oklahoma Gaming Compact, a point of contention between Oklahoma’s Governor and each of the state’s 39 federally recognized tribes.

“This is historic that all tribes are united,” said Speaker Pro-Tempore James Dry. “We will stand strong together.”

Tribal council officers were nominated and elected at this session including Speaker Thomas Williston of District 1. Others elected were Ronald Perry, District 5, Secretary; Jennifer Woods, District 6, Chaplain; James Dry, District 9, Speaker Pro-Tempore. Jay Renley Dennis and Patty Hawkins will continue respectively as Parliamentarian and Recording Secretary. The Sergeant-at-Arms post was tabled for the next session.

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