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In lean times, Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry seeking ‘surgical’ cuts to budget

BY JULIE BISBEE Modified: December 23, 2008 at 8:24 am •  Published: December 23, 2008
Cuts will need to be made in agency budgets in the next fiscal year as the state sees a decrease in money available to spend, Gov. Brad Henry said.

The state Board of Equalization met Monday to certify projections of a 4.4 percent drop in the state budget — from $7.1 billion to $6.8 billion — for the 2010 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

"We’re all in this together,” Henry said after the meeting. "Every agency is going to have to tighten their belts.”

Lower prices for oil and natural gas mean the state gets less money from the gross production tax on the two commodities. Slips in individual income tax collections and motor vehicle tax collections put less money in state coffers.

Henry will use the projections to make his budget proposal. Revenue projections will be revised in late February, with lawmakers using the data to set agency budgets.

"It will be difficult to raise teacher pay or state employee pay,” Henry said. "It’s going to make it tough on many agencies after having a standstill budget this year.”

Agencies should be prepared to suggest cuts and increase efficiency. But Henry said he doesn’t expect furloughs or job cuts.

"It’s very likely that we’ll make some surgical cuts,” Henry said.