Fallin hints at budget priorities, education and tax reduction

Gov. Mary Fallin discussed planning for Oklahoma's state budgets.
BY MEGAN ROLLAND mrolland@opubco.com Published: December 20, 2012
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“I've actually made several phone calls this week, not only to other governors, but also members of congress expressing our concern … about the impact of the fiscal cliff and how hard it is as a governor to plan a budget when we don't know what is going to transpire with the tax cuts that are tied to actually state income tax cuts,” Fallin said.

Approximately $60 million of the projected $214.6 million budget increase will only occur if Congress fails to reach a compromise before reaching the fiscal cliff. If no agreement is reached to keep in place tax breaks and deductions currently on the books, the taxable income of residents in Oklahoma will increase.

Fallin said they are working now to look at the legislative priorities compared to the budget requests and needs.

She said education funding is a top priority, especially funding education reforms that have been put in place the past two years. Lawmakers approved sweeping reforms touching on everything from teacher evaluations, to preventing social promotion after third grade, and a new A to F grading scale for schools.

Education will automatically see a $78 million increase in the fiscal year 2014 budget, as part of the House Bill 1017 Education Reform Revolving Fund.

Other priorities she said are funding the Department of Corrections, which has had a difficult time recruiting guards; the Highway Patrol, which has too few troopers; and the Department of Human Services, which is undergoing a massive overhaul after settling a federal lawsuit that claimed the department had failed to protect children in the agency's care.