Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry sees crisis as revenue declines

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: November 3, 2009 at 6:27 am •  Published: November 3, 2009
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Plans to wait until legislators return to appropriate money to state agencies and programs reeling from recent 5 percent monthly budget cuts are in jeopardy if revenue collections continue to come in 20 percent or more below estimates, Gov. Brad Henry said Monday.

Most state agencies and departments took a 7 percent cut this fiscal year, and all have received 5 percent cuts in state appropriations because revenue collections have come in 26 percent below estimates for the first quarter. The 5 percent monthly cuts are likely to continue through June, the end of this fiscal year.

More than 100 older Oklahomans are expected to show up Wednesday at the state Capitol to protest slashing some senior nutrition programs by the state Department of Human Services because of the revenue shortfall.

"We have a crisis throughout state government,” Henry said. "The senior centers are just a tip of the iceberg.

"Hopefully we can make it to regular session, but we may not.”

Henry, who said he will try to meet with the group of seniors Wednesday, said the senior nutrition program for low-income people has not been cut. The program that provided meals to any elderly Oklahoman ended with the start of the month.

"Let me stress this is the beginning of many such rallies,” Henry said.